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Live coverage

Tour de France 2016: Stage 17

 Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 17. We're in Berne, Switzerland for the start of stage 17 of the Tour and the first true day in the Alps. It's a major test for the peloton with four categorised climbs and another summit finish. And coming after the second rest day in the race there are a lot of tired and nervous riders. The sign on is about to start, with the official roll out in an hour from now.

Here's a reminder of how things stand coming into the stage:
 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 72:40:38
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:47
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:45
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:02:59
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:17
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:04
7 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:04:47
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:03
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:16

 

Robert Millar: The least unpleasant of the final Alpine stages. Good roads, beautiful scenery and fairly uneventful until the descent into Aigle for a quick wave to UCI headquarters. Then it’s fasten your seatbelts for the blast along the valley and from Martigny on it’s every man for himself. The Col de la Forclaz is unrelenting and it’s windy so the decisions could well be made even before the haul up to Finhaut. The perfect terrain for Quintana versus Froome.

 

And that's exactly how today has been billed - Quintana versus Froome with the Sky rider holding a healthy rider over the Movistar leader  - and all his other rivals for that matter. It's Quintana who many see as the main threat - despite the climber's struggles in the race so far. 

 

 

So it's a gradual rise out of the start village and then almost two hours until we reach the climbs. First up the third category Cote de Saanenmoser, and then the Col des Moses - which we climbed in 08 or 09, can't quite remember, before we descend to Aigle to say hello to President Cookson - hope you've practiced your salute - and then it's up the first category Col de la Forclaz. 

 

Looking at the profile that's an excellent opportunity to try and attack - either a bold move from a GC rider or someone like Valverde trying to weaken Team Sky. You can bet they won't give the Spaniard much room as he's right up in the overall standings. Forclaz is a Sky style climb as well - steady at 6-8 per cent all the way up. 

 

Then it's a sharp descent to the final climb up to Finhaut Emosson. There are lots of 9 per cent and over stretches and we're going to see a major shake up there - far more than we did at Arcalis if the heat remains a factor on the stage. 

 

Around 35 minutes until the roll out so plenty of time to catch up on the news. 


As yesterday was a rest day, we've lots of images of smiling riders enjoying a little training run and some coffee. Here's the gallery, accompanying text and we'll provide some of those ergonomic mouse mats for your inevitable RSI claims you're likely to submit after all that clicking and swiping. Enjoy!

 

In other news Peter Kennaugh has 'done the right thing' as your tabloid hack might say in some east-London accent, with the Sky rider falling on his own sword, pulling out of the Olympic Games and thus allowing Steve Cummings to step in. Cummings was a surprising omission given that he's won so much this season, can climb. No one puts Cummings in the corner.

 

Peter Sagan's latest 'acting' intake has seen him take on the role of pint-sized Aussie and former Neighbours star, Russell Crowe, from Gladiator. Last year it was Grease, and now it's Gladiator. The video is here


It begs the question, which movie would you like Sagan to take on next? 27 dresses? The Devil wears Prada? Dirty Dancing? They're all great suggestions, thanks, but let me know at Twitter.com/dnlbenson. Best answer will win some form of prize. 
 

 

25 minutes until the race starts:

 

Froome had his press conference yesterday. He's confident of wrapping up the race and who can blame him as he's barely broken sweat other than when he was forced to run, run up Mont Ventoux. Yesterday he declared that he should be in his best form for the final week and the Alps. If he can put two minutes into his rivals when he's not in his best form then you have to really worry for a few riders out there today. If Froome wins today and extends his lead it's probably game over. Here's the story from Froome' rest day press conference. 

 

More news from the rest-day and Mark Cavendish has gone home to the UK to prepare for the Olympic Games. Four stage wins, a spell in yellow and a thoroughly entertaining two weeks have seen his reputation restored and enhanced. "Restored" might seem a tad unfair in some peoples' eyes but Cavendish was certainly an underdog to many in the sprints before the start of the race. He's shown them. Or 'H's shwn thm' as his marketing team might say. Here's the story on Cavendish leaving the Tour and his preparation for Rio. 

 

@dnlbenson Sagan should do The Joker in the Dark Knight: 'why so serious'....although it might be too grim

@DeLeidsche Wed, 20th Jul 2016 09:40:07

@dnlbenson Peter Sagan and Olek Tinkov in Kramer vs Kramer

@dmstrs Wed, 20th Jul 2016 09:47:07

Roughly ten minutes until the start of stage 17 and the majority of the peloton have signed on and made their way to the start line. Here comes Froome, in yellow, ahead of what is surely going to be one of the most significant days of his Tour de France. 

 

Tous les regards se tournent vers @NairoQuinCo / all eyes on @NairoQuinCo today #TDF2016 https://t.co/1rGcqhQJfy

@LeTour Wed, 20th Jul 2016 09:54:21

Before the start, here's our stage preview from Barry Ryan who looks ahead to the Alps. It sets the scene perfectly for the next four days of racing. 

 

And here's Sadhbh O'shea's video preview of the stage too. Now sit back, think about Peter Sagan reprising the role of Mrs Doubtfire and enjoy stage 17 of the Tour de France.

 

@dnlbenson @petosagan next movie roll Hairspray??

@DianeC72 Wed, 20th Jul 2016 09:57:15

Think @petosagan should take on Johnny Depp in his next skit @dnlbenson #PiratesOfTheCaribbean

@joeycycle Wed, 20th Jul 2016 09:52:59

ARU Today

@festinaboy Wed, 20th Jul 2016 10:02:48

And we're off, and through the neutralized zone for stage 17 of the Tour de France. 

 

Still in the neutralized zone with local boy Fabian Cancellara on the front and leading the bunch with Froome and Sagan. This is Cancellara's final Tour and his final season. 

 

#TDF2016 Here we go, stage 17 is now underway plenty of

And as soon as the flag drops the attacks start. Lotto NL and FDJ are part of the fun - both teams of course haven't won a stage in this year's race of course. 

 

There's a crash in the peloton. Three men are down - Bozic (Cofidis), Barguil (Giant) and Izagirre (Movistar) with the latter pulling out of the race. Awful luck there just after the stage has started. Movistar lose a man and Barguil, who was clinging to hopes of a top 15 is caught up as well. It looks like he's back on his bike though which is good news for the Giant Alpecin rider.

 

LeMond: 'Miracles in cycling still don’t exist' American speaks out to L’Equipe. https://t.co/3OxxroDxUL https://t.co/6GAnzWtAvy

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 10:22:37

Le Tour are reporting that Gorka Izagirre is out with  a broken collar bone. That's a loss to the team, sad for the rider himself of course, but I wonder if it will affect Movistar's plans for today. They will have had a defined plan coming into the stage and the loss of an important rider will surely be a blow.

 

RT @radiotour_es: Gorka Izaguirre: posible fractura en la clavícula https://t.co/cSJpdrrrTa #TDF2016

@Movistar_Team Wed, 20th Jul 2016 10:25:14

176km remaining from 184km

8km covered so far and the bunch have compacted back together after that crash. Race leader and his team near the front. 

 

@dnlbenson Sagan- Achilles in Troy! He's be an excellent Brad Pitt double!

@VNidari Wed, 20th Jul 2016 10:16:00

A reminder of the GC standings coming into the stage:
 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 72:40:38
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:47
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:45
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:02:59
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:17
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:04
7 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:04:47
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:03
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:16

 

Tour de France: Movistar seek alliance with Astana to take on Froome https://t.co/hq6zeSZWIC https://t.co/5VMnQ7GqRA

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 10:30:19

Four more riders are trying to go clear in the early stages of the day. With all the major KOM points coming at the end of the stage we could see jersey holder Majka stay in the bunch today and save himself for tomorrow. He might not want to use up a load of energy for the chance to pick off a couple of cat 3 climbs before the real race starts. 

 

164km remaining from 184km

Navardauskas, a former Tour stage winner, is the latest man to try his luck. No chance at the moment though with the peloton intent on shutting everyone and everything down. All together after 20km of racing. 

 

Cofidis, like Cannondale, haven't got anything out of the Tour and they'e tried to volley a rider up the road. Again, no dice, and it's brought back by the bunch. 

 

Looks like Astana are trying to get in on the action. Aru is their leader and he'll be keen to move up the GC after a modest showing in the race so far. He lost time at Arcalis and didn't have a memorable time trial before the weekend. The climbs in the Alps, they suit him, and along with Movistar it could Astana who shape the race over the next few days. 

 

154km remaining from 184km

We had a break:

Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Julien Vermote (Etixx-Quickstep)...

 

... but it's all back together. Fast start to the stage, nervous even, but no luck with the break forming just yet. It needs more numbers. Four or five isn't enough for a number of teams to be satisfied and then switch off.

 

143km remaining from 184km

The fast pace continues and we're about 30km from the first climb of the day. Still no break from the peloton though who are just constantly attacking each other. It's only a matter of time before the elastic snaps though and we have a move that sticks. Dimension Data, Orica GreenEdge, Cannondale and Cofidis have all tried to spark something. 

 

Win a VIP experience for two on stage 3 of the 2016 @TourofBritain https://t.co/4mle60a00K https://t.co/iaqvOQoEXq

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 11:05:03

This rapid start will be brutal for the riders in the bunch who were hoping for a more sedate start to the race after Tuesday's rest day. No such luck as another wave of attacks hits the bunch. 

 

The 1996 #TDF: The fall of Indurain, the rise of Riis – Podcast part II https://t.co/yGw2ZJm6Jy https://t.co/9EgEE5oS5f

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 11:09:56

It's not too late to download our amazing Tour Tracker app, by the way. It's got loads of in-stage data, CN's live feed and news, and results and reports. Well worth it with the stages in the Alps finally upon us. There's no Pokemon included but as long as you're not 8 years old or missing something from your life, you'll be fine. I choose you TourTracker app

 

The pace had started to settle as we roll towards the first climb. That was until Rolland and Keldermann - two riders who came into the Tour with big hopes but have faded - tried to jump away. They were joined by a rider from Cofidis but again it's shut down by a number of teams who haven't made the break. We need a group that's bigger than just a handful of riders or we'll just have to wait for the first climb of the stage to decide to who has the legs to break away. 

 

Keldermann is 30th on GC, over 48 minutes off the lead. He wasn't here to win the Tour but a top ten place was realistic ambition for the Lotto NL rider. He's fallen apart in the second week and all that's left is the chance to compete for stage wins. At the start of the Tour he didn't have a contract for 2016. I'm sure there will be plenty of teams what would be keen to sign him and see how he goes in a grand tour next year. 

 

Average speed of first hour in stage 16 of #TDF2016? A crazy 51.8 km/h!

@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 20th Jul 2016 11:22:28

 

Told you it was fast!

129km remaining from 184km

55km covered in just over an hour of racing and a large break of around 22 riders goes clear but only briefly as they're then shut down by the bunch. All back together. 

 

We're almost at the Cote de Saanenmoser, the first climb of the stage. Is that where we'll see the first genuine break of the stage form? Still full gas, still all together after 60km of racing. 

 

We're not on the climb proper yet but the road has started to rise with a false flat that will continue to sap the strength of the peloton. The bunch are going to pay for this hard start later on, that's for sure.

 

This is an interesting little number - Barguil has skipped clear with ten Dam and two other riders. The Frenchman is 18th on GC and Orica are wise to the danger on Yates' white jersey and marked the move with Impey. If he sits on they'll probably all sit up.

 

Gougeard is the other rider in the fourman move. He'll be happy to be there and to share the turns on the front. Will teams react or will they allow Barguil just enough rope?

 

As you'd expect the move is shut down and once more the bunch is back together. We've covered almost 70km already but we've still not started the climbs yet. 

 

Pierre Rolland's custom Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod: https://t.co/04FyWAHqqT https://t.co/YcR7ePsfii

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 11:44:04

Majka can sense those KOM points are close and touches out with a tentative move. He's caught too as we start to see riders slip off the back of the bunch. 

 

108km remaining from 184km

Astana play a card and send Kangert up the road with three more riders. There's a chase group of five as we start the first real climb of the stage. 

 

Le Tour report that we have a group up the road and it contains:


Tanel Kangert (Astana), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), Steve Morabito (FDJ), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).

 

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) has missed the move and is chasing on his own.

 

That's an incredibly strong group - lacking in men from BMC, Sky and Movistar but very decent looking all the same. They have 35 seconds at this point and Rui Costa should be able to make contact. 

 

The peloton are now over three minutes behind the main break but there's a counter attack that's joined up with Rui Costa and it includes some heavy firepower, including Alaphilippe, Plaza, Pauwels, and Voeckler to name but a few.

 

Here are the 8 chasers behind the break: Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Serge Pauwels (DiData), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) and Ruben Plaza (Orica).

 

The peloton are four minutes down on the Gallopin group as we go over the first climb of the stage.

 

@dnlbenson No @Movistar_Team in the break? No launch pad for Quintana, this attack isn't going to happen or will be marginal 10s gain.

@ChrisHallUK Wed, 20th Jul 2016 12:00:03

The counter attack move that includes Rui Costa is still a minute off the lead group. We're at the half-way point in the race.

 

It's Sky on the front driving the pace for the peloton, with Froome neatly tucked in behind his eight teammates. The bunch are lined out as we descend with 89km to go. 

 

The bunch are now 8;15 down on the break after they sat up after the first climb.

 

Sagan is working for Majka in the second group as he tows them along with the KOM jersey leader sat on his wheel. They've still got a lot of work to do if they want to make it up to the 11 man lead break though. 

 

#TDF2016 With 90 km to go, the front group with @tonygallopin is 8'08" ahead of the peloton!

@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 20th Jul 2016 12:17:51

The Sagan/Majak group have closed to 50 seconds with the bunch back at nine minutes. Sagan is still on the front for Majka and doing all of the work for his teammate  - an impressive bit of teamwork from the world champion. 

 

Correction of riders in the break:

Tanel Kangert (Astana), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), Steve Morabito (FDJ), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept)

 

 

 

Lutsenko, Van Avermaet and Voeckler are the three men chasing now with the counter attack splintering on the next climb. 

 

Rui Costa is at the back of the third group on the road, having missed the first move as once again Sagan gets out of the saddle and takes a shift on the front for his teammate Majka.

 

Rowe is on the front for Team Sky at the moment and just tapping out a steady pace for his team. The break almost have 9 minutes with 82 km to go. 

 

We're on the Col de Mosses as Rui Costa sits up and saves his energy for another day. The peloton have just started the climb.

 

The Voeckler group go over the climb 32 seconds down on the front group that includes Sagan and Majka. We've still got 78km to go.

 

Back in the bunch and Team Sky continue to set the pace for Froome, with Movistar, Tinkoff and BMC lined out behind. The gap to Sagan/Majka group is at 10'43.

 

The bunch have just gone over the climb and Team Sky take on some food before they start the descent. There's a good chance that the stage winner will come from the break now because the gap could easily go over 13 minutes. 68km to go and the gap is at 11'07.

 

Stannard has taken over from Rowe at the front of the peloton so Rowe can grab some food as he slips down the Team Sky train. 

 

67km remaining from 184km

Voeckler and company make it up to the leaders with 67km to go. The riders in the front group are:
 

Tanel Kangert (Astana), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), Steve Morabito (FDJ), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie)
 

 

We're on the flat section before the final two and the two largest climbs of the stage. Just over 56 km to go. 

 

Crash. Archbold has come down. He's now on his feet but he came down on the descent. His face appears to have blood on it.

 

The rest of the bunch are lined out as we head towards the next climb. A lot of interesting riders up the road with a few mixed motives. Sagan and Majka want their points for their jerseys, van Avermaet is probably there for Van Garderen and Porte, while Kangert is there for Aru. Morabito is there for the stage win, Voeckler, Pantano too.

 

Into the final 50km of the stage and the main break are rolling through and working well together. Their lead is still close to 11 minutes and they've every chance of competing for the stage - as long as the peloton don't race before we hit the final climb. 

 

Quintana has made a trip back to the team car and now is being paced to the peloton. He has to have a good stage today. What does 'good' mean? In this case if he loses time then it's probably all over. If he can hold Froome that's at least something but he also needs to start clawing back time. A lot of pressure on his shoulders today. 

 

46km remaining from 184km

There's another comfort break in the bunch and that allows Quintana to come back and it's also means that the break draw out there lead a little further. Stannard has hit the bar and brings back a round of drinks for his teammate. Would you want a bottle that had been stuffed in his jersey on a hot summer's day? Probably not but that's why these Sky riders are paid the big bucks.

 

41km remaining from 184km

The break moves out to 12 minutes, that's the biggest it's been all day. Rowe takes over once more on the flat section before the penultimate climb. Team Sky still have all nine men on the front of the peloton. 

 

Pozzovivo has been at the back of the break ever since it first formed. At times he's simply been trying to hang on but he's about to hit the climbs and then he'll be in his element. Question is whether he's up the road for Bardet, for himself or both.

 

We're starting to climb and Stannard on the front is grinding up the gradient. The gap has moved out even further to 12'28 with 35km to go.

 

Pozzovivo isn't even tapping through to take a turn. He's not the only one though, a few others are following suit. Just as I write that Pozzovivo comes through the group and takes a turn. 

 

We're coming up to the intermediate sprint and Sagan takes it uncontested with Van Avermaet rolling over in second.

 

After his crash Archbold has made it back to the peloton and he's talking to teammate Sam Bennett. Both riders have been in the wars during the race but they're both still hanging in there and getting through the race. 

 

Inside the final 30km to go and all the GC men are waiting for the final climb. I get the sense that one or two GC men are going to be found out on the next climb though. It's steady but tough with the gradient never really easing. Majka has just led the break onto the lower slopes with Voeckler on his wheel. 

 

Froome now has Mollema's Trek team on his wheel. Not much fuss over Mollema but he's second overall and he's there on merit. He and Porte are the best climbers after Froome in this race so far as we've not yet seen the best of Nairo Quintana. Dan Martin had a tough run on Ventoux so today is a big test for the Irishman who currently sits in 9th overall - still within touching distance of a top-five place.

 

Watch part 2 of Peter Sagan 'The Gladiator' - Video: https://t.co/2ecxV1L08V https://t.co/Z9jQBEW8kO

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 13:36:11

The break is now on the  Col de la Forclaz and already riders are starting to lose ground. As you'd expect Sagan is one of them but his work is done for the day. Over to you, Majka.

 

The peloton haven't sparked into life yet and the gap is now out to 13 minutes with 29km to go.

 

BMC have moved up on the other side of the road but we still have Team Sky setting the pace and controlling affairs. Astana have two men up the road in the break and they're now the ones dictating the speed of the break. 

 

For now Majka is just sitting at the back of the break. I dont think he's in the form he had two years ago but all eyes will be on him for this summit with the KOM points up for grabs. The bunch, meanwhile, are just counting down the kilometres before they start climbing. It wont be long.

 

Majka is taking over at the front of the break as riders unzip their jerseys. Not sure Voeckler even started with his done up but here he is, on the front and taking a turn.

 

Rui Costa is drifting at the back of the bunch as up the road Gallopin attacks and Lutsenko goes with him.

 

Back down the climb and riders are all over the road. As you'd expect all the sprinters have been dropped or are in the process of losing contact. Tony Martin also dropped. Sky have lost a couple of riders from their train - probably Rowe and Stannard. 

 

The heat is going to be a factor today as the peloton continue to climb up the penultimate ascent. Dumoulin has been dropped and Mollema has lost a few of his foot soldiers too. Movistar are now driving the pace, with Anancona taking over from Sky. The Spanish team are starting to show some intent but will it work?

 

25km remaining from 184km

Boasson Hagen dropped and I think Landa and Keldermann have also lost contact. Movistar are blowing the race apart.

 

The two leaders Lutsenko and Gallopin have 19 seconds on the chasers, with the peloton at 11'14. Landa wasn't dropped. He's on the front now and tapping out the pace for Froome.

 

Gallopin has been caught so now we just have Lutsenko up the road but the gap is just a handful of seconds. 24km to go. 

 

The main field is already down to less than 40 riders. Movistar again have a man on the front but Froome still has the numbers. Astana, BMC and Trek still have numbers. Movistar too of course. 

 

Rolland is drifting at the back of the yellow jersey group, with Bardet and Yates closer to the front. We're reaching boiling point in the GC group.

 

5km from the top of the climb and Gallopin has been dropped from the chase group on the road. IAM are chasing Lutsenko and trying to set up Pantano once more. 


Movistar still have one man on the front of the peloton as they try and soften up Sky. So far the British team look good for their money. Mollema is glued to Froome's wheel. 

 

Froome still have five men with him as they once again take over at the front of the peloton. Movistar have dropped Rowe and Stannard but the rest of Froome's defence has remained secure. The Spanish team will hope that they've at least done enough to make sure that Froome's dropped riders don't make it back on the descent. 

 

Thomas takes over at the front with Poels taking off his glasses, giving them a clean and then focusing once more on keeping Froome safe and sound. Movistar have run out of men. Moreno is struggling at the back. Team Sky just look so solid at the moment. 

 

Further up the road and Lutsenko just has a few seconds left on the remnants of the break. The leaders still have 11 minutes of an advantage with 20km to go. And the Astana rider has been caught.

 

Clement is setting the pace at the front of the break with Pantano near the back and just waiting and waiting. Majka will make a move for the KOM points soon enough. That has to be matched though.

 

Clement is setting the pace at the front of the break with Pantano near the back and just waiting and waiting. Majka will make a move for the KOM points soon enough. That has to be matched though.

 

Van Garderen has been dropped. 19km to go and the American has cracked, and he's on his own.

 

And it's Astana who set the pace. Movistar can't do it and Van Garderen has cracked so Astana want to move Aru up the GC. 

 

Will Astana attack on the climb or will they go on the descent? Both Aru and Nibali can descent like demons a we see Porte still has a man with him. Moinard not even used to help pace van Garderen back. Are the American's top ten aspirations over? Once again he's had a bad day after a rest day.

 

Sanchez has more problems with his shoes. Not the first time we've seen that in the race. We're at the summit of the climb and Majka takes the KOM. 

 

And it's Nibali who is setting the pace now for the yellow jersey group. He's finally putting Sky under pressure as we see Thomas grimace in the heat. 

 

And Rolland has been dropped. He's blown as we see Fuglsang also lose contact. 

 

Froome still has four men. Aru has Nibali and he's on the front setting the pace. Up the road Clement and Majka have move clear on the descent. Pantano is right at the back of the break. 

 

It looks like Thomas is done. The Team Sky climbers look at each other before finally deciding on who will track Nibali on the climb. 

 

12km remaining from 184km

Five still for Froome. I think Thomas just dropped down the line, that's all. 12km to go for the leaders on the road, the peloton still at 10'05.

 

Caruso has been dropped by the main field so Porte is on his own. Will Van Avermaet drop back? Nibali is still doing all the work on the front. 

 

As good a climber as Pantano is, he might even be a better descender. That's how he won Stage 15.

@joelindsey Wed, 20th Jul 2016 14:18:01

Thomas does indeed pull over, his work done for the day. Nibali has taken out one Sky riders for his efforts. Just the small matter of four more, and Froome to go. Quintana, Mollem, Yates, Martin, Aru, all in contention. 

 

Has Clement been given the green light because he's working with Majka here and not waiting. Perhaps he's just trying to tire out the chase for Pantano later on the climb. 

 

Voeckler is leading the chase from the break as Sky lose another rider. Froome has two men left.

 

174km remaining from 184km

Zakarin has attacked with 9.8km to go and he's gone clear.

 

Feillu is trying to go after the Katusha rider as suddenly Aru, and one other Astana rider appear on Nibali's wheel. It's Rosa. 

 

Zakarin has made contact with Majka and Clement with 7.9km go. 

 

It's Pantano up the road, apologies, not Clement so we have Pantano, Majka and Zakarin in the lead. The yellow jersey group are on the descent and riding towards the final climb. Astana and Team Sky have the numbers.

 

It's still Astana on the front as Zakarin attacks. Majka can't follow the acceleration but Pantano isn't throwing in the towel. He's out of the saddle and made contact with the Katusha rider. 

 

And Zakarin kicks again and Pantano is struggling and has lost contact. The IAM rider's shoulders are hunched over the bars as the Russian pings along at a high cadence. If he can hold this then he'll take his maiden Tour de France stage. Froome and company are still at 10'11.

 

Nibali is again on the front and he has the bunch lined out. All the GC men are here apart from van Garderen who lost contact on the climb before. 

 

Landa had been sitting at the back of the group but he's finally lost contact as up the road Zakarin moves his lead out to 14 seconds over Pantano. 

 

Nibali ups the pace once more and this is going to blow the yellow jersey group apart. Zubedia has been dropped. 

 

Mollema doesnt look comfortable but he's on Froome's wheel. The race leader lets a little gap open up but then closes it. 4km to go for Zakarin. 

 

Nibali has done his job and pulled over. Rosa will take over for Aru as Pantano holds Zakarin for 19 seconds.

 

Aru gets on the radio and he looks good, it has to said. Porte, Yates, Rodriguez, Martin and Mollema are all digging in. 

 

Quintana is there too of course but a little further back. Valverde is even further back with around 15 riders left. and Rosa has blown. He almost grinds to a halt as Martin moves up towards the front.

 

3km remaining from 184km

3km to go for Pantano. He has 23 seconds to close on the lone leader, Zakarin.

 

Now it's Sky back on the front. Aru has simply dropped back down the line and moved to Froome's wheel, sharing the space with Mollema. 

 

And Valverde accelerates at the front and is Froome in trouble because that's the second time he's let a gap open up.

 

Valverde goes and three Sky follow but Froome is a little slower to do so. 

 

Kreuziger dropped.

 

Froome has closed the gap and Valverde drops back. Poels and Nieve take over, Quintana and Porte now on Froome's wheel. 

 

2km remaining from 184km

2km to go for Zakarin. 

 

And Dam Martin has attacked. Sky try and chase even though he's five minutes down. The Irishman opens up a small gap as Froome again lets another gap open up. Is this another Froome bluff like we saw at the Dauphine.

 

Sky just hold Martin at 5m as Valverde is popped from the yellow jersey group. 

 

Sky catch Martin as the GC group is down to around 10 men with 4km for them left.

Henao and Poels are left with Froome but still no attack on Froome from his closest rivals. Zakarin has just 1km to go before taking the stage win. The last time check at Pantano at 35 seconds.

 

500m for Zakarin left before he can take the win. Do your jersey up lad. 

 

Zakarin takes the stage win. 

 

He had nothing left at the line as we see Pantano take second for IAM Cycling.

 

Back down the line and Sky continue to control their rivals. 

 

2km to go for the yellow jersey group. Anything left in the tank from the GC men?

 

And Porte has attacked. Rodriguez has been dropped. 

 

Quintana has tried to go with the BMC man but he cant' follow and has been caught. Martin has now been dropped as Aru accelerates. 

 

Mollema cracks as well and now Froome attacks. 

 

Froome has Poels and Quintana with him, Aru can't follow and now Quintana crack and Poels sits up.

 

And Froome has caught Porte. 1km to go for the GC men. The rest of the top ten are scattered over the road. Froome just simply rode away from Quintana, Bardet, Mollema and all the others.

 

Porte is going to move into contention for the podium as Quintana tries to respond. He gets out of the saddle but he simply doesn't have it in the legs. 

 

Froome just sits on Porte's wheel and the gaps continue to grow. The time gaps should be seconds rather than minutes but this race is moving closer and closer to Froome. And now Quintana has totally cracked. Yates, Bardet and all the others come passed the Movistar man. 

 

Porte isn't racing for yellow, he just wants time and time is what he's getting. Yates is leading the chase. 

 

Yates comes over the line a few seconds back, then Bardet, and then Aru and Meintjes. 

 

 

Quintana, then Martin, Mollema and later Rodriguez come over the line. 

 

1 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 4:36:33
2 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling 0:00:55
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:01:26
4 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - Merida 0:01:32
5 Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept 0:02:33

 

Lets wait for the official time gaps but Quintana lost around 25 seconds in the last 1km. He and Mollema were the big losers of the day. Yates, Porte and of course Froome were the big winners in the top ten.

 

Here's the top ten for the stage:


1 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 4:36:33
2 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling 0:00:55
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:01:26
4 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - Merida 0:01:32
5 Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept 0:02:33
6 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie 0:02:46
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:50
8 Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling 0:02:57
9 Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ 0:04:38
10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:07:59

 

General classification after stage 17

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:27
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:27
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:15
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27

 

In the #TDF2016 GC, Chris Froome continues to lead, followed by Bauke Mollema and Adam Yates.

@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 20th Jul 2016 15:08:29

Great stage of our Durasek!!! He has closed 4th of stage 17 ! Bravo !!!! #TDF2016

@lampre_merida Wed, 20th Jul 2016 15:07:38

You can find our brief report and results, right here.

 

General classification after stage 17

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:27
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:27
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:15
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:19
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:35
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:50
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:06:07

 

.@IlnurZakarin speaks! He speaks English!

@stephenfarrand Wed, 20th Jul 2016 15:11:35

Van Garderen then dropped out of the top ten. That certainly changes his race but will it also alter his roll? It's taken around two and bit weeks but we finally know the leadership status at BMC Racing. Porte now into the top five and is the team's best and only chance of a making it onto the podium.

 

What have we learnt today?

There are a few cracks in Team Sky but they're small and they're still the strongest team in the race. It took a former winner in Nibali and Valverde to weaken both teams but in the end Poels and Henao were still there. Aru and Quintana just' don't have it. Froome though today just did everything he needed to. He followed the wheels, let his team do all the work, and then latched onto Porte - putting more and more time into his rivals. Three tough more stages left but Froome is untouchable at the moment. 

 

What have we learnt today?

 

No disputes over leadership at Movistar as we saw Valverde bury himself for Quintana on the final climb. His accelerations laid the ground work for Quintana but the former runner-up simply didn't have it in his legs. He lost 28 seconds today and all hopes of winning the race, surely. He tried to follow Porte and then Froome, and he also attacked from the chases but each time he was caught and then dropped. He physically and mentally cracked today. It's going to be a long way back from here.

 

What have we learnt today?

Astana played a similar hand to Movistar and they took the race to Team Sky. Nibali was immense, Rosa played his part but when the chance came Aru didn't attack. He few wheels thereafter but wasn't able to follow when Porte attacked. He's looking good enough for a top five though if he can put in a strong ride tomorrow and Quintana and Mollema continue to weaken.

 

Mikel Nieve (Team Sky):

“We were working all day and in the final. We had our leader in a good position in the race, and he used our work and was able to carry on up the climb, ahead of other teams that could have made the race difficult.

“Chris Froome did really well today and he managed to get more time, so that is a good day today.”

 

Tanel Kangert (Astana):

“Zakarin was strong and he really deserves it. He is one of the few guys who is still going strong after the Giro. Our tactics were to attack today on the penultimate climb. I don’t exactly know what they did behind but it seems like Fabio [Aru] was going quite good. Personally, I’m just really tired after the Giro and couldn’t help him as much as I would have liked. There are days when I feel better days that are worse, and today was a bad day.

“The whole team of Sky is going strong, controlling the race from start to finish and it is really hard to break them. We will still keep going and maybe one day they will crack. There are still two more days and we will see what happens.”

 

Thomas: "It was quite a fast start. When Nibali really raised it toward the top of the penultimate climb, for me it was a bit too much to follow, I was overheating and got dropped and rode a steady tempo.

I think the strength and depth we have is massive for us. If someone is having a bad day, there are three other guys who are feeling good. Another day ticked off.

 

A reminder of how things stand on GC after today's stage:


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:27
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:27
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:15
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:19
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:35
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:50
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:06:07

 

You can find our finish line quotes story, right here.

 

Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen: Spratt wins queen stage, Cecchini takes overall lead: https://t.co/cJd64s09qw https://t.co/ue6LeXHv8g

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 20th Jul 2016 15:45:21

What have we learnt today?

 

Another impressive day from Adam Yates in the mountains. He led the chase for Froome and Porte in the finale. He keeps making telling contributions at the front just when he needs to. There were not blistering attacks further down the climb and he's raced intelligently throughout the Tour. He holds third and has put more time into Quintana. At this rate he could finish second in Paris.

 

 

What have we learnt today?


Van Garderen lost almost 20 minutes on today's stage. That's his top five, and top ten ambitions all over for another year. He's now in 17th place, 23 minutes off Froome's lead. His race turns towards stage wins and trying to help his teammate, Richie Porte. The Australian would be on the podium right now if he hadn't lost that time in the first week with that flat. 

 

Before we head off, lets hear from the race leader:
 


"I'm pretty happy with my day. It's always difficult to know how it will happen after a day of rest. And I felt pretty good, I was completely surrounded by teammates. I wanted to stay up with the best and watch everyone, it was not planned to attack. But I saw the opportunity to save time on my rivals and it worked, so I'm in a good position. It can still happen things, and tomorrow the clock will be a big piece.



"Richie is one of the very best riders in the world. Today he again proved that he is in his place when he is fighting for a place on the podium. He made an incredible race. "

 

Thanks for joining us today. We'll be back tomorrow with complete coverage from the individual mountain time trial, stage 18 of the Tour de France.

 

For now, here's our reports, results, photos and quotes from today. Video highlights will be along shortly, along with news and reactions from all the major players.

 

See you Thursday. You stay classy CN readers.

 

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