Skip to main content
Live coverage

Tour de France 2010: Stage 17


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from stage 17 of the Tour de France. We're just a few days away from Paris but today is the crucial stage from Pau to the Col du Tourmalet and everything is still to play for.

The riders are still on the buses as we await the start to the stage. You may have heard the news of poor weather and heavy rain but right now the rain has eased off at the start. The roads are still wet but there's certainly tension at the start. For Contador and Schleck today is possible the biggest day of their careers so far. Can Contador win his third Tour de France, his fifth Grand Tour? Can Andy take is crown, fulfill his potential, and win his first Tour de France?

Temperatures on the ground are a cool 16 degrees. At the top of the Tourmalet they're down to just 6 degrees. Riders are starting to head out from the buses now, many of them in jackets. The start is just 15 minutes away.

The queen stage of the race comes with four climbs, each getting notably tougher. The second, the Marie Blanque, isn’t high but its last 4km average 10 per cent.

The Soulor is longer, higher, and tackled from the toughest side. Then to the Tourmalet, the highest climb of this year’s race. It’s debatable whether this side is the tougher of the two ascents but there’s no doubt it’s tough enough to make a real difference. Steepest in the town of Bareges and then towards the summit, the Tourmalet offers little respite to what will be very Tour-weary legs. Could that be where Schleck makes his move?

This is the second ascent of the Tourmalet in this year's race, up possibly the steepest side from Bareges. Although the gradient barely reaches double digits, the length 18km and relentlessness of this climb is what will really hurt the legs, especially with three sharp climbs earlier in the day.

Here's a look at the overall as things stand going into the stage:

Schleck does need to put time in Contador. A lot of talk of needing around three minutes as a buffer zone before that final time trial.

And let's not forget Menchov and Sanchez. The Russian has only gone on the attack once in this year's race, gaining a vital seconds on both Schleck and Contador, when they sat up and watched each other.

174km remaining from 174km

The bunch are heading through the neutralized zone. Most of them are in arm warmers while in the CN blimp, we've got the heating on for the first time in this year's race.

It's not just about yellow though today. We've got a sprint at 33km of racing. Expect the sprinters to go all out for those points.

Already an attack. It's a Liquigas rider, Koren who's initiated the first move.

171km remaining from 174km

Two riders from Sky amongst the group that are coming up to Koren. A Cofidis rider, one from BMC, Euskatel too.

168km remaining from 174km

Sastre back with his team car, he clearly isn't happy with his clothing.

Here are the names of the breakaway riders: 

162km remaining from 174km

Of course we climbed the Tourmalet two days ago. That day, Moreau led the pack over the climb. It's one of the most historic climbs in the history of the Tour.

The climb usually provides mid-stage entertainment. The only summit finish was in 1974 when jean-pierre Danguillaume took the stage win by nearly two mins from Raymond Poulidor. That day they raced up the opposite side.

159km remaining from 174km

155km remaining from 174km

The third rider in that counter attack was Gutierrez (Caisse) hence why Shack had to close it down. Both teams vying for the team prize in this year's race.

They've been caught, as Radioshack now try and send a man up the road. Caisse chase that one down.

Astana don't like the pace jumping up and down and come to the front of the bunch again.

150km remaining from 174km

Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo Test Team has jumped out of the bunch and is going after the break.

Crash. Sanchez

Third in GC and it doesn't look good at all.

148km remaining from 174km

146km remaining from 174km

Not sure about that one, Carlos.

It will be a long chase back for Sanchez. The good news is that he's back on the bike and racing back to the bunch, it really didnt look too good a few minutes ago.

Despite the bad weather the crowds are out in force today.

Another Euskatel rider has dropped back to help Sanchez in his chase back to the bunch. This will help the break as they try and establish a healthy lead.

Sanchez has made it back as far as the team cars so not far for the Spaniad now.

140km remaining from 174km

Astana return to the front of the bunch as we head to the first climb of the day, the Col de Marie-Blanque.

Via Twitter, a good point made:

The lead is moving out to nearly seven minutes.

Jen Voigt comes to the front of the bunch. The German is heavily bandaged after crashing two days ago. Astana continue to set an easy tempo on the front of the bunch.

Sanchez still near the back of the bunch. He's not looking too comfortable, not surprising to be honest.

News is that he was very badly winded in the crash.

Sanchez, chatting to Barredo, is checking out his right elbow. Wincing with pain it has to be said.

133km remaining from 174km

I'm not sure what Sastre is doing here. He's losing time on the break up the road and wasting energy in no-mans land. The peloton seem more than happy to let him sit out there for now.

via Twitter:

128km remaining from 174km

Samuel Sanchez is now back with the race doctor, who is looking at the Spaniard's right arm.

125km remaining from 174km

Lots of clouds covering the peaks in the Pyrenees as the peloton roll through a valley before the first serious climb of the day. The break are already on the lower slopes.

Sanchez still wincing has he comes back through the bunch. The Olympic road champion currently sits third overall in the race.

122km remaining from 174km

Cervelo owner Gerard Vroomen has Tweeted in:

Well Vroomen's man is certainly in agreement with his boss and is sandwiched between the bunch and the break. Still losing time on the break but he's certainly setting his stall out early today.

The break are pushing ahead still and their lead is 8.35 on the bunch. Sastre continues alone on the lower slopes.

Off topic but of course important, the news on the street is that Tyler Hamilton is talking to the Feds in the US and that Armstrong has a new attorney. News was broken by Bonnie Ford from ESPN. You can read the CN take here.

Back in the break and Flecha takes a bottle from the Sky team car. Sastre is slowly catching the break, he's 3.25 down on the leaders now.

119km remaining from 174km

Roux from FDJ is the first ride to pop off the back of the bunch, Cavendish also struggling, but has two loyal teammates with him.

Petacchi also struggling at the back of the bunch as well. The Italian is currently under investigation back in his homeland.

116km remaining from 174km

Flecha leads Koren over the top of the Col de Marie-Blanque.

Konovalovas being brought back by the bunch, and Sastre is closing in on the break.

The break now on the descent. They're all back together but they're not taking too many risks on the descent as you might imagine. The roads are very wet and slippy.

Astana still setting the pace on the bunch. Fairly long downhill for the seven leaders but the road will kick up slightly at the bottom of the climb for roughly 1km.

109km remaining from 174km

Some better news for Euskatel: Peter Cossins spoke to Euskaltel foundation president Miguel Madariaga this morning and he said that the team is likely to remain in the ProTour next season even though their budget is being cut back over the next two seasons. He says staying the ProTour is less about money and more about fulfilling all of the UCI's administrative requirements.

The riders will have a feed zone after 87km of racing and then they'll tackle the Col du Soulor.

The rain starting to come down a little bit heavier now as riders start to put on their capes.

More from Cervelo's Gerard Vroomen, via Twitter: : Should they cancel their whole plan? Kono already up the road for Sastre, so in a sense the attack started long b4 the crash

The break now onto that little rise after the descent. Burgy again calling for his team car.

Seb Lang leading the pack on the descent. There's a small split in the bunch with around  20 riders off the front but that will come back together.

100km remaining from 174km

Sastre, still on his own, takes a few seconds to wolf down some food, and then gets back on the bars in a bid to catch the leaders.

Lotto now helping on the front of the bunch with setting the pace. It's Lang, a rider signed by the team to help Evans in last year's TTT setting the pace.

dbfphoto @dnlbenson I love the sportsmanship, but can you explain it for the occasional fan? Shouldn't riders gain for staying on their bikes?

88km remaining from 174km

On the subject of Sastre: He won't make a decision about whether or not to ride the Vuelta until well into August. He's having a few days rest after the Tour, will then ride the San Sebastian Classic and will then start to think about his programme beyond that. If he does start the Vuelta, it will be his third major tour of the season.

Koren drifting to the back of the break. He kicked things off very early in the stage today and was the first rider to break away from the bunch.

Lang still leading things in the bunch. Sastre slipping back a bit on the flat roads, but he'll aim to close the gap on the next climb.

81km remaining from 174km

The bunch now heading through the feed.

77km remaining from 174km

Lang still doing a good job on the front. Their man Van den Broeck will probably go on the attack today. he's jumped away on nearly every stage so far in the mountains. He's not scared of anyone.

73km remaining from 174km

72km remaining from 174km

For those of you playing our Easton-Cyclingnews Wheelset a Day Giveaway during the Tour de France, here is your trivia question for the day:
As well as a 2nd place on the podium in the Tour de France and a World Championship jersey, Cadel Evans has won one Spring Classic. Which one?

Sastre still drilling away on his own. He's now 4.46 behind the break. He's closer to the bunch than the break.

Cervelo had a plan today, it's just not worked out.

Astana in the lead on the Soulor now.

Flecha leading the break on the climb. They look quite ragged, the efforts of racing in the break for over 100km starting to show.

The bunch now on the climb too. Roux immediately slips off the back.

66km remaining from 174km

Astana come back to the front for their man Contador. They've done most of the work on the front so far today. Saxo, just waiting in the wings for now.

Knees slipping back too. Thomas as well.

Astana starting to set the pace now and it's cranking up with every pedal stroke.

Sastre starting to be reeled in by the bunch now. Is he the carrot for the bunch to chase down the break so Hushovd can take some point later on.

64km remaining from 174km

Sastre gritting his teeth as the Astana train dances up the climb and around another sweeping corner. Contador sitting in the bunch with Schleck.

Moreau back up with the bunch, solid work from his teammate Rojas.

Matt Lloyd close the front with Van den Broeck on his wheel. the KOM leader hovering near the front too.

5km for the break now until the top of the Soulor.

Paolo Tiralongo has done most of the work for Astana on the climb as Sastre reaches the 5km to go banner.

Klobonev is stringing out the break. Hagen hanging on at the back.

Mist and fog surrounding the break, visibility is very poor at the top of the climb. The riders are going to have to be very careful on the descent of the climb.

The roads are dry on this side of the climb, the issue is the fog and visibility.

The bunch is down to less than 50 riders now. Paolo Tiralongo still drilling things on the front.

Sheep on the road. Chaos.

They're everywhere!

No crashes but the bunch had to zig zag in between their woolly friends.

The blimp is in dangerous territory now. The visibility is so bad now. The break are now at the top of the climb and the riders are putting on their rain jackets. Sastre is almost invisible in the mist.

56km remaining from 174km

The bunch now with 1km to go until the summit. They're closing in on Sastre.

Sastre goes over the top. He's had a long hard day, and he's still got the Tourmalet to come.

A very long descent and then a flat section before we begin the final climb of the day, the Tourmalet.

Sastre comes out of the fog on the descent. He'll be reeled in pretty soon. So will the break for that matter, they dont have a big enough lead heading towards the final climb of the day.

46km remaining from 174km

Koren on the front of the break now. They're trying to stretch out their lead as much as possible before the final climb of the day.

Special Breschel on the front now, driving things along as the bunch try and catch Sastre. Breschel's first Tour, this.

38km remaining from 174km

The break still together. They've worked well but just haven't been given that much room, probably because of the fact that Sastre has been behind them and on the attack.

In other news a certain Mr Shumacher wants to make a comeback. And race clean! Story on CN coming soon.

Rabobank have a rider at the front of the bunch. I think that's Boom. He'll be winding things up for Gesink and Menchov, the Russian still in with a slim chance of winning the Tour. A very good chance of finishing on the podium.

31km remaining from 174km

The gap to the break is 5.26. That will come down dramatically once we reach the climb.

28km remaining from 174km

Large crowds out on the roads as the bunch pass through. They're closing in the foot of the Tourmalet. Lars Boom still on the front. No sign of Sanchez yet.

Sastre has about 30 seconds on the bunch. Well he's given it a good shot today but no reward for the Spaniard.

25km remaining from 174km

100 meters left for Sastre.

That's it. All over for the 2008 Tour winner.

Already climbing in the valley before the climb. Rabobank are starting to put the hammer down again.

Breschel comes to the front again for Saxo Bank. Astana paying close attention. The bunch is already thinning out. The Tour could be decided in the next 20 or so km. It all could come down to just 18km of climbing.

Everything lined out now. Riders at the back already struggling. Breschel swings off and more Rabo rider take over.

21km remaining from 174km

Very quickly, dont forget to check out our coverage from Cascade, lots of great racing from the men and women there.

20km remaining from 174km

Just 1km until the start of the climb for the break. Contador has shed his jacket. He looks comfortable. Schleck is close by.

18km remaining from 174km

Flecha on the back of the break as his teammate does a huge turn.

Sastre now losing touch with the bunch. His day is nover.

Gritting his teeth, the Dane will do one moe big pull today and then sit up.

Cancellara near the front with Schleck on his wheel.

16km remaining from 174km

Ivan Basso now drifting off the back.

Saxo come to the front for their leader as Klobonev attacks the break.

Saxo Bank are taking complete control, Lampre hovering too.

The break all over the place but we're going to concentrate on the yellow jersey group. ,Maybe 30 riders there.

15km remaining from 174km

Contador is on Schlecks wheel, right where he should be.

Up ahead it's Klobonev and Burgy as Cancellara sets the pace. First time we've really seen him on the climbs this year.

Gadret being dropped. Hincapie too.

Cancellara is setting the pace, wrecking the field.

Sandy Casar losing contact, Evans too.

Maybe 25 riders left in the yellow jersey group.

15km remaining from 174km

Klobonev tries to go again.

Klobonev is pulling away now from Burgy.

13km remaining from 174km

Contador out of the saddle,still on Schleck's wheel.

Vino still at the back of the group. Van den Broek, Menchov, Gesink all in the lead group. Levi and Horner there too. Vino now dropped.

Kreuziger and Barredo both in the group too. Kloden too.

Armstrong and Matt Lloyd both there as well. Roche is there. Menchov is riding with Sanchez, who looks in pain.

Fuglsang takes over from Sorensen, that's Schleck's last man.

11km remaining from 174km

Schleck looks back at Contador 'im right here buddy'

Flecha being caught now.

We're about to hit the steepest part of the climb.

Fuglsang still setting the pace, he's going to crack soon.

10km remaining from 174km

Roche is still in there.

Barredo attacks. not what we were expecting but there you go. The fog is thickening.

Cunego moves up, a BBox rider attacks and here goes Schleck , Contador on his wheel.

9km remaining from 174km

He can't get rid of Contador. He needs to drop the Spaniard has Menchov tries to come across now too.

Gesink is cracking now as he tries to get to Sanchez.

Schleck leads Contador through the fog. This the battle we were expecting and the two strongest men are dropping everyone.

8km remaining from 174km

Mechov now in the group with Sanchez, ,Ryder, Levi, Rodriguez and couple more riders.

The Contador group fly passed Klobonev, Schleck goes again but Contador matches him.

7km remaining from 174km

The headlights from the car guide the way, Schleck in white, leads Contador in yellow.

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Alberto Contador (Astana)

Contador still just sitting in, Schleck looks back to check he's still there. Both riders do still look strong. Will Contador try and hit him with a sucker punch?

7km remaining from 174km

Gesink setting the pace for behind for Menchov.

6km remaining from 174km

Both men out of the saddle as the gradient kicks in again. The Spaniard still holding the Saxo Bank rider.

5km remaining from 174km

Horner is the Shack rider in the chase group. Not Levi.

And again.

Schleck gives the Spaniard a long, long stare and goes again. Incredible ride.

Contador has never been asked such difficult questions in the mountains before by a rival in the Tour.

Huge crowds again both sides of the riders. Contador still sitting in. the road widens. Schleck looks back.

Words are being exchanged. Perhaps about turkeys and gels and here goes Contador!

3km remaining from 174km

Schleck is goading the Spaniard. Is that wise? Amazing scenes at the Tour.

That was a huge attack from Contador, Schleck came straight back to him.

Schleck winds things up again!

3km to go. Contador goes back to sitting on his rival's wheel.

Gesink still setting the pace with the rest of the GC men. They're losing more time.

2km remaining from 174km

Still both men together, less than 2km to go now. Schleck continues to lead. Time is running out for him now. Has he got anything left? Has Contador?

1km remaining from 174km

Schleck needs to make a move, the roads will widen soon.

Is Contador going to make one last dig?

Just 500 meters to go.

Contador just sits there, waiting.

Still Schleck leads. He's trying to up the pace.

150 to go. They're coming through the mist. Side by side now.

Schleck takes the stage, Contador doesn't sprint.

Rodriguez comes through the mist. He'll get third. Ryder will get fourth. Best ride of  his life.

Sanchez next, he put some seconds in Menchov, then Van den Broeck. Great ride from the Spaniard.

Roche comes over the line now. Good ride. 2.26 down. Armstrong coming over. Barredo too.

Two Caisse riders come over the line too. That might mean Shack have the team prize.

Schleck celebrated the win as he crossed the line, but part of him probably knows that he's lost this year's Tour. He puts an arm around Contador just after the line.

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 5:03:29
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:00
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:18
4 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions 0:01:27
5 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:01:32
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:01:40
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:01:40
8 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack 0:01:45
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:48
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:14

Epic day in the Tour de France. In the end Schleck couldn't crack Contador, who took everything the Saxo Bank rider threw at him.

Thanks for joining us today. Please tune in tomorrow for stage 18 in the race. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage today.

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 83:32:39
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:08
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:32
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:03:53
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:05:27
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:06:41
7 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:07:03
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions 0:09:18
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:10:12
10 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack 0:10:37

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1