Tour de France: Froome attacks descent to win stage to Luchon

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme designed the first two of this year's Pyrenean stages with the aim of denying Chris Froome the opportunity of taking a grip on the race in the range as he did when he claimed the title in 2013 and 2015. However, Team Sky's leader wasn't to be denied as he produced one of the most astonishing and daring performances of his career on Saturday, enabling him to claim a brilliant solo victory in Bagnères de Luchon and with it the race leader’s yellow jersey.

Froome swept into Luchon 13 seconds clear of the other favourites, who were led in by Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), just ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha). Thanks to the 10-second bonus he gained for winning the stage, Froome moved into yellow, 16 seconds ahead of compatriot Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange), with Rodríguez third overall. Froome's principal rival, Nairo Quintana is now sixth at 23 seconds.

This scenario had seemed extremely unlikely halfway up the Peyresourde. After setting the pace on the front of the group of favourites for most of the way over stage's four major climbs, mopping up all of the breakaway riders as they did so, it appeared that Sky would be content to lead the GC contenders down into Luchon and save their powder for the next stage to Arcalis. Yet, three kilometres from the top of the Peyresourde, the last of those climbs, Sky's initiated a series of attacks that split the group, with Tinkoff's Alberto Contador the main casualty.

Cresting the Peyresourde, Froome accelerated. He and teammate Wout Poels had done the same on the previous climb of Val Louron, apparently to deny Tinkoff's Rafal Majka maximum points for the King of the Mountains jersey. On this occasion, though, Froome continued his effort.

Catching his rivals by surprise, he quickly opened up a gap of a few seconds as he began the plunge into Luchon. What came next was even more startling as Froome tucked down onto his toptube and spun his 54 chainring with all he had, opening up an even bigger gap in the process. It didn't look pretty or comfortable, but it was very effective.

As Quintana's teammate Alejandro Valverde led the chase behind the defending Tour champion, Froome's advantage reached 25 seconds. Then BMC duo Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen gave a bit more weight to the chase, which helped to halve the gap by the finish. To complete another good day for British riders, Adam Yates retained the white jersey and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) finished in the gruppetto to hold the green.

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How it unfolded

There was blistering start to the day, as the peloton covered 51km in the first hour, chasing down every breakaway attempt in the process. Approaching the intermediate sprint (67km), a group of around 13 riders gained half a minute on the peloton. Among them was Orica-BikeExchange's Michael Matthews, who breezed clear to take maximum points.

That group of 13 split after the sprint. On the early slopes of the Tourmalet, the only one of that baker's dozen to remain at the front was Arnold Jeannesson (Cofidis), who was soon joined by two big-hitters in the shape of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Tinkoff's Majka.

Jeannesson couldn't stay with the pace of his new companions, who forged on as Sky took over pace-setting duties in the peloton behind. While Jeannesson dropped back, Etixx-QuickStep's Tony Martin went past him and pressed on to join the two leaders two-thirds of the way up the Tourmalet.

As Martin advanced, teammate Julian Alaphilippe was one of the riders shaken out of the peloton climbing the Tourmalet. Yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) also slipped out of the group, his loss of time soon guaranteeing there would be a new race leader in Luchon.

On the final steep ramps of the Tourmalet, Pinot accelerated to ensure he was first over the pass. It earned him €5,000 for the Souvenir Jacques Goddet prize awarded in memory of the former Tour director and useful points in the mountains competition. The Sky-led peloton was 2-22 behind.

As Martin sat in behind Majka and Pinot on the second-category Hourquette d'Ancizan, the German's role clearly to assist Etixx leader Dan Martin further into the stage, Sky’s pace was beginning to tell in the peloton. Movistar's Dan Moreno and Winner Anacona couldn't stay with it, nor could IAM's leader Matthias Frank.

Pinot led Majka and Martin over the Hourquette d'Ancizan, with Sky's Sergio Henao heading the group of GC contenders 90 seconds later. When the leading trio started up the first-cat Val Louron, their advantage had dropped to a minute as Movistar sent Nelson Oliveira to the front to push up the pace. Within minutes, Oliveira had pulled the favourites across to the three leaders, with Majka the last of them to yield.

Oliveira had done his stint, and Sky's Mikel Nieve moved to the front, with around 35 riders in the group following the Spaniard. Soon after news had come through that Katusha's Michael Mørkøv had become the first rider to abandon the race, the lead group topped Val Louron, where Majka made a late surge to take maximum KoM points only to see Poels and Froome surge to deny him, although the Pole would still end the day in the polka-dot jersey.

Descending Val Louron, Wilco Kelderman's tube rolled off on a right-hand hairpin, leaving him sitting in the road as LottoNL-Jumbo teammate George Bennett offered him his wheel and a mechanic appeared with a new bike. Both rejoined the lead group for the Peyresourde, where Nieve stuck to his task and there was absolutely no hint of the thrills about to come.

Then, three kilometres from the top, Henao attacked. Movistar's Quintana and Valverde were quick to respond, and Froome was right with them. The group reformed, then Valverde pressed hard, only to see Froome surge by with Quintana on his wheel. Then Dan Martin accelerated, his move being countered by Henao.

This flurry split the group, with Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Contador the most notable absentees. It settled for a few moments, then AG2R's Romain Bardet accelerated. Quintana chased the Frenchman down and made his first dig in this series of attacks, drawing a response from Henao and Froome. That seemed likely to be the end of the action, until Froome made the most unlikely of attacks, in the process shredding any argument that descending is his weak point. 

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky4:57:33
2Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:13
3Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team KatushaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 3 - Cell 2
5Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff TeamRow 4 - Cell 2
6Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 6 - Cell 2
8Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 8 - Cell 2
10Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - MeridaRow 12 - Cell 2
14Sergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 13 - Cell 2
15Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 180:01:41
16Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 15 - Cell 2
17Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM CyclingRow 17 - Cell 2
19Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team SkyRow 18 - Cell 2
20Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team SkyRow 19 - Cell 2
21Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 20 - Cell 2
22Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 21 - Cell 2
23Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team KatushaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac0:01:45
25Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 25 - Cell 2
27Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ0:02:55
28Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:04:10
29George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:04:12
30Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:05:31
33Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie0:10:18
34Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 33 - Cell 2
35Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 34 - Cell 2
36Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team SkyRow 35 - Cell 2
37Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team0:11:26
38Wouter Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 37 - Cell 2
39Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:12:34
40Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ0:13:25
41Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team KatushaRow 40 - Cell 2
42Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18Row 41 - Cell 2
43Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 43 - Cell 2
45Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 44 - Cell 2
46Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 45 - Cell 2
47Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 46 - Cell 2
48Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 47 - Cell 2
49Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 48 - Cell 2
50Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ0:16:19
52Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 51 - Cell 2
53Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:18:37
54Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team0:20:54
55Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Direct Energie0:21:24
57Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:22:33
58Alberto Losada (Spa) Team Katusha0:24:09
59Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac0:25:14
60Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling0:25:42
61Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 61 - Cell 2
63Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJRow 62 - Cell 2
64Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 63 - Cell 2
65Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 64 - Cell 2
66Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:25:54
69Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 68 - Cell 2
70Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM CyclingRow 69 - Cell 2
71Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 70 - Cell 2
72Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 71 - Cell 2
73Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 73 - Cell 2
75Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 74 - Cell 2
76Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto SoudalRow 75 - Cell 2
77Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 76 - Cell 2
78Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18Row 78 - Cell 2
80Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - MeridaRow 80 - Cell 2
82Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 82 - Cell 2
84Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 83 - Cell 2
85Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18Row 84 - Cell 2
86Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
88Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 87 - Cell 2
89Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 88 - Cell 2
90Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - MeridaRow 89 - Cell 2
91Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
92Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
93Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:29:32
94Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:32:48
95Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Argon 18Row 94 - Cell 2
96Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 95 - Cell 2
97Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJRow 96 - Cell 2
98Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:34:43
99Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-SegafredoRow 98 - Cell 2
100Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 99 - Cell 2
101Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-DrapacRow 100 - Cell 2
102Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 101 - Cell 2
103Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek-SegafredoRow 102 - Cell 2
104Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 103 - Cell 2
105Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 104 - Cell 2
106Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 105 - Cell 2
107Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 106 - Cell 2
108Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 108 - Cell 2
110Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 109 - Cell 2
111Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 110 - Cell 2
112Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113William Bonnet (Fra) FDJRow 112 - Cell 2
114Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 113 - Cell 2
115Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 114 - Cell 2
116Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 115 - Cell 2
117Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 116 - Cell 2
118Yohann Gene (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 117 - Cell 2
119Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 118 - Cell 2
120Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 119 - Cell 2
121Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 120 - Cell 2
122Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 121 - Cell 2
123Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
124Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
125Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 124 - Cell 2
126Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 125 - Cell 2
127Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 126 - Cell 2
128Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 127 - Cell 2
129Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 128 - Cell 2
130Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 129 - Cell 2
131Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 130 - Cell 2
132Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 131 - Cell 2
133Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM CyclingRow 132 - Cell 2
134Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 133 - Cell 2
135Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-DrapacRow 134 - Cell 2
136Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 135 - Cell 2
137Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 136 - Cell 2
138Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 137 - Cell 2
139Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team KatushaRow 138 - Cell 2
140Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Lampre - MeridaRow 139 - Cell 2
141Jerome Cousin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 140 - Cell 2
142Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:39:24
143Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 142 - Cell 2
144Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 143 - Cell 2
145Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 144 - Cell 2
146Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 145 - Cell 2
147Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 146 - Cell 2
148Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM CyclingRow 148 - Cell 2
150Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 149 - Cell 2
151Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 150 - Cell 2
152André Greipel (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 151 - Cell 2
153Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 152 - Cell 2
154Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team KatushaRow 153 - Cell 2
155Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie