Stage 17 of the Tour de France brought a return to the high mountains for the general classification contenders and another major showdown atop the Col du Portet.
The 16-kilometre climb in the Pyrenees would be the highest-altitude finish of the race and, at an average gradient of 8.7 per cent, it would spell another big battle among the men at the top of the standings.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) only extended his lead at the top of the standings after winning the stage, and once again showing his dominance in the mountains of the Tour.
The Slovenian blew up the GC group 8.5 kilometres from the top of the climb, taking Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) with him as Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) showed his first sign of weakness in the podium battle and couldn't follow.
The Colombian was the big loser of the day, dropping from second overall to fourth after shedding 1:49 on the final climb. It could have been much worse for the EF leader had Sergio Higuita not been there to nurse him on the final ascent of the day.
The result, however, was enough to see Urán drop from second overall to fourth, with his gap to the yellow jersey now at 7:17. Vingegaard moves up to second in the overall standings at 5:39, with Carapaz up to third at 5:43.
Eighth-placed man Enric Mas (Movistar) was the first rider in the GC top 10 to be dropped on the Portet, falling out of the peloton as Rafał Majka pushed the pace 12 kilometres from the top. The Movistar rider at least managed to recover before the final slopes, and finished 2:27 down on the stage winner. The result even saw him move up a place in the overall to seventh at 9:48.
Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) put in yet another dogged display, and along with Urán was initially able to follow Pogačar. The Australian would eventually lose ground but he clawed his way back to the Colombian and even managed to drop him on the final ramps of the ascent to finish fifth on the stage and retain the same position in GC.
He now sits 7:34 behind yellow but has a slim margin over sixth placed Wilco Kelderman. The Dutch rider finished the stage with blood on his face but was able to regain contact with Urán, Higuita, and O'Connor before eventually coming over the line in sixth place at 1:40. Like O'Connor, he maintained his place in GC and sits just over eight minutes down.
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) finished almost three minutes down, and like Urán dropped down the standings with the Astana leader now over eight minutes adrift of Pogačar after slipping back halfway up the climb. Ninth-placed Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) also lost time and finished a place down on Lutsenko in 13th but he managed to maintain his position.
David Gaudu's (Groupama-FDJ) excellent fourth-placed finish was enough to see him finish 1:19 down on Pogačar, and while that did not lift him into the top 10 on GC, he at least cut the deficit on Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) by 21 seconds.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result||Time lost/gained|
|1||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||71:26:27|
|2||Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma||0:05:39||-0:07|
|3||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||0:05:43||-0:10|
|4||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo||0:07:17||-1:59|
|5||Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team||0:07:34||-1:36|
|6||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:08:06||-1:50|
|7||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||0:09:48||-2:37|
|8||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech||0:10:04||-3:03|
|9||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis||0:11:51||-3:49|
|10||Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:12:53||-1:54|
|11||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:15:42||-1:29|
|12||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:19:41||-4:56|
|13||Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange||0:28:42||-4:56|
|14||Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:31:48||-9:38|
|15||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:34:02||-3:51|
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