22/07/15 - 11:55
Finished
Digne-les-Bains - Pra-Loup
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Tour de France • Stage17
avant-match

Digne-les-Bains - Pra-Loup

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Highlights 
 
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0km 

Yellow and white cross the line alongside Rafa Valls of Lampre. Further back, Valverde drops Nibali in the closing moments. Thomas will be the next to cross the line, another 40-odd seconds back.

0km 

Quintana attacks! Froome is the only one who can follow... they have 300m to go.

0km

Contador did crash because you can see a cut on his right forearm and a tear in his shorts.

0km 

The rest of the break are arriving in dribs and drabs... Teklehaimanot, Majka...

0km

Contador - riding Sagan's bike - has been unable to rejoin the main favourites on this climb. Quintana put in an attack, but it came to nothing. Nibali has picked up team-mate Westra. It's going to be a stalemate between these guys - although Contador is down and Van Garderen is out.

0km 

Matthias Frank (IAM) is fifth just behind Pinot. Adam Yates seems to have disappeared, so it may be Steven Kruijswijk who takes sixth.

0km

Fourth for Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at 1:35. If only he hadn't crashed on the descent it may have been very different...

0km

Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) crosses the line for third at 1:01.

0km

Second place for Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) - 31 seconds down.

0km

Victory for Simon Geschke of Giant-Shimano, who roars and punches the air over the finish line, before coming to a prompt stand-still.

0.5km

He's been out since 53km to go - what a ride from Simon Geschke today.

1km

Under the flamme rouge goes Geschke - and only a fall will stop him now. No Kittel? No problem, for Giant-Shimano. He was fourth in Gap, now Geschke will get his win.

1.3km

Valverde and Quintana have Herrada with them now, from the original break, plus Malori. Further back, Contador is riding on his own in pursuit after that mechanical.

1.5km 

Cannondale-Garmin will get their third second-place of the Tour. Talansky still 45 seconds down on the leader.

2km 

Talansky is riding with no water bottles, Geschke has one, Pinot two.

2.5km 

The big GC favourites have completed the downhill and have started the final 6km climb to the finish.

3km

Talansky now 55 seconds behind Geschke. The bearded German is gritting his teeth - he will hold on.

4km 

Pinot and Frank have dropped Yates. Uran has Talansky in his sights. Back on the descent and it's Valverde who leads, with Froome and Nibali behind, then Quintana.

4.5km

Can Geschke hold on? He has Talansky and Uran in pursuit, plus Pinot, Yates and Frank a bit firther back. The gaps are down to just over a minute.

5km

Under the 5km-to-go banner for Geschke, who has 2:00 over Talansky. Uran is just behind, while Pinot was also caught by Yates and Frank on that descent - he's about to catch them now on the climb.

6km

Geschke is onto the final climb to the finish - the Cat.2 climb to Pra Loup (6.2km at 6.5%).

6.5km

Geschke has completed the climb and almost comes a cropper when riding alongside his team car - that was a close one.

7km 

Nibali, Valverde, Froome and Quintana are still all together on this descent.

8km

Contador will lose time today - that bike change took a long time...

9.5km

CONTADOR DOWN! Either that, or he needs a bike change - because he's on the side of the road with Sagan and Rogers, who were up ahead in the break.

11km

Geschke has 1:37 over Talansky, with Uran and then Pinot in pursuit. The yellow jersey group is still nine minutes in arrears so they shouldn't figure for the stage win.

12km 

Pinot's confidence has gone - Talansky has passed by. Geschke is still our lone leader - he's ridden this downhill well. Uran is about to catch Pinot.

13km 

The yellow jersey go over the top and start this dangerous descent... Meanwhile, Pinot - who crashed earlier - has been caught by Talansky.

14km

The main GC favourites catch Richie Porte, who takes up position on the front for Chris Froome. Advantage Sky...

15km

Now Quintana goes! The Colombian attacks from the back - and it's covered by the others.

16km

ATTACK! Nibali steps on the pedals - taking Froome, Quintana, Valverde and Contador with him. The Big Four plus the Spanish national champion - here they are!

18km

CRASH: Thibaut Pinot loses his back wheel on a tight left-hander and he's down. He's back up quickly but that looked quite nasty.

19km

Pierre Rolland has been dropped by the yellow jersey group, and Warren Barguil is on the ropes too now... Astana still driving the pace through Scarponi and Nibali. Wout Poels has been dropped. Froome, Thomas, Quintana, Contador, Valverde and Gesink are all there.

22km

Over the top goes Geschke and the bearded German will now start this testing descent, which is 16km in total, very narrow, with some tight bends and patchwork of road surfaces.

22.5km

Lone leader Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) has 1:10 over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) as the near the summit. Meanwhile, Rigoberto Uran has joined the chasing group.

23km

Did you know: Romain Bardet descended like a demon off the back of the Col d'Allos before climbing to victory at Pra Loup in what was a carbon copy of this stage in June's Criterium du Dauphine. Can the French tyro do it again on the centre stage? The answer is... No. Bardet has been dropped by the yellow jerse group.

23.5km

Astana are pushing hard on the climb back with the peloton, which is riding 10:50 in arrears. Sanchez and Scarponi drive a fast pace for defending champion Nibali.

24km

Pinot attacks! He's climbing like a man possessed and drops the other chasing riders on a tight hairpin.

25km

Pinot has caught the likes of Kruijswijk, Frank and Yates. Only Frank can hold his wheel as the others, plus Talansky, struggle to stay in touch. The American bridges over, but Kruijswijk has popped and Yates somewhere in between.

25.5km

Thibaut Pinot has ridden past Talansky as he tries to chase down Frank. Kudus was there but has tired.

26km

Meanwhile, back with the pack it's the Trek Factory Racing team of Bauke Mollema who set the pace - but they're well over 11 minutes behind the lone leader, Geschke. Trek don't have any riders in the break so they're looking to rectify that.

26.5km 

Yet another attack from Frank, who prompts a reply from Talansky. Roche leads the response ahead of MTN duo Teklehaimanot and Pauwels.

27km

Now it's Roche who steps on the pedals, reeled in by Pauwels and Herrada. Geschke is climbin well and has 1:50 over Kruijswijk and Yates, who are 30 seconds ahead of the Roche group. The peloton is at 11:30.

27.5km

Peter Sagan is no longer in this main break group as Matthias Frank ups the tempo for IAM. He's got Rafal Majka on his wheel - the Polish winner of stage 11 in Cauterets.

28km

Richie Porte has been dropped by the break. The Tasmanian is said to be ill today, so he's done well to stay in touch for so long.

29km

Teklehaimanot has been caught by the other escapees and Kruijswijk has ridden clear in pursuit of Geschke.

30km

Michal Kwiatkowski, the world champion from Etixx-QuickStep, has withdrawn from the Tour. He's been struggling for quite some time now.

32km

Rafa Valls of Lampre-Medira steps on the pedals and edges clear of the break. He's provoked a response from 5 riders, with another 6 in pursuit.

33km 

The break has managed to regroup so we have 24 riders - including Sagan - who ride in pursuit of Geschke and Teklehaimanot. The peloton is now 10 minutes off the pace so the winner today will come from the break, that's almost guaranteed.

35km

Geschke has Teklehaimanot in pursuit. The Eritrean knows this stage well - he tackled it in the Dauphine, in which he won the polka dot jersey.

37km

The break is shedding some of its extra timber now, as Degenkolb becomes the latest rider to drop back. His team-mate Geschke continues his lone ride at the front of the race. He has 1:45 over the others and another seven minutes over the pack.

39km

Sky duo Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche have reportedly sat up from the break - although I can certainly see the Irishman still there.

41km

Quintana has two Movistar team-mates, plus Alejandro Valverde, now. The pace has slowed considerably meaning lone leader Geschke has been able to pull out a lead of 7:15. He has 1:05 over the green jersey chasing group.

44km

We're onto the Cat.1 Col d'Allos (14km at 5.5%). Geschke has two riders in pursuit - Herrada and Durasek.

45km

Froome now has five Sky team-mates on the front of the main pack with him, whereas Nairo Quintana looks pretty isolated because lots of his Movistar men are further up the road. They trail the front of the race by 4:55 - and the front of the race is bearded rouleur Simon Geschke, who has ridden clear for Giant-Alpecin.

48km

Believe it or not: With the Galibier cancelled because of a landslide, the 2,250 metre-high Col d'Allos will be the highest point of the 2015 race. The first time the Tour used the Col d'Allos was in 1947 when Rene Vietto crossed the summit in pole position just months after losing a toe to sepsis. Rumour has it Vietto made his domestique Apo Lazarides cut off one of his own toes in an enforced show of solidarity. According to legend, Vietto's toe is on display in a jar of formaldehyde in a bar in Marseille.

50km

The break passes through the intermediate sprint at Beauvezer and there's some comedy capers going on as FDJ's Vaugrenard pips Degenkolb and Sagan for the points - much to the chagrin of the green jersey. "Not a good moment for Vaugrenard - that may come back to haunt him in another race." Either way, Sagan adds another 15 points to his unassailable tally...

51km

According to the controversial retired rider Michael Rasmussen has a meteorological warning for the riders...

53km

There's a fair bit of gesticulation and discussion going on in the break, with Ryder Hesjedal basically telling Richie Porte and the other riders from the GC teams to, well, bugger off.

55km

Sam Bennett of Bora-Argon 18 has withdrawn from the Tour - the Irishman was lanterne rouge and has been struggling with illness. That means the new last man in the our is Sebastien Chavanel of FDJ.

58km

The gap's up to 3:45 for the break as Sagan forms a small group alongside Degenkolb on the descent.

64km

It's Pauwels who leads the trio across the summit again in first place. The Rogers quintet are about 2:20 back, just over a minute ahead of the main pack.

65km 

With the summit of the climb approaching three riders have jumped clear of the leading group - Durasek, Herrada and Pauwels. Further back, French duo Feillu and Sicard (not Rolland, as first reported) have Rogers and Malori in their sights, plus a Bora-Argon 18 rider too, Jan Barta.

66.5km

Tony Gallopin, who dropped out of the top ten on Monday after struggling on the descent of the Col de Manse, has been dropped by the main pack. Technically, the Frenchman is back into 10th following the withdrawal of Tejay Van Garderen, but that may not be the case when he crosses the line. The man behind him in the standings is Romain Bardet, who won this exact stage during last month's Criterium du Dauphine...

67km

Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Seche) pings off in pursuit of Rolland. All this action has seen the gap of the main break come down to 2:48. The Movistar rider with Rogers is Adriano Malori, not Anacona. Back with the pack, Froome now has Wout Poels as well as Konig and Thomas.

69km

Mick Rogers has attacked again - and this time he's joined by a Movistar rider, it looks like Winner Anacona. Thomas De Gendt of Lotto-Soudal also pings off the front, as does Pierre Rolland with a Europcar team-mate.

70.5km

Race over for ill Tejay Van Garderen. He pulls to the side of the road and is inconsolable - sweat and tears pouring down his face. And off comes his number - his Tour is over.

72km

Now Valverde goes! The Spanish national champion kicks clear of the yellow jersey pack and sits on Contador's wheel. This move has caused a split in the pack, with Froome riding with only two team-mates now in Konig and Thomas. It's a group of about 12 riders - and Van Garderen is not one of them.

73km

It's no can do for Contador and Rogers, who are struggling to make their move stick. Rogers calls it quits as Contador continues dancing in the pedals - but he's about to be caught by the pack. What his acceleration has done is whittle down the pack, from which numerous riders have been dropped having only really just got back on.

74km

ATTACK: Alberto Contador and Mick Rogers ride clear of the Sky-led peloton. Very interesting... Tinkoff-Saxo have two more riders further up the road, and so far there's no reaction from Sky, but Movistar have edged forward. They will want to protect Valverde's fourth place.

74.5km

The peloton is back together so Van Garderen has managed to claw himself back into it. They trail the leaders by 4:20.

75km

Van Garderen is not the only ill rider out there - Richie Porte is supposed to be feeling off colour, and yet he's in the break for Sky...

76km

The riders are onto the third climb of the day, the Cat.2 Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (11km at 5.2%). The gap is 3:20 for the green jersey leading group over the chasing pack. The Van Garderen group is not that much further back and will soon join the fray - which is encouraging for the American, but it still doesn't bode well.

77km

Talking of food... out plat du jour today is a succulent shoulder of Sisteron lamb with a potato gratin - knocked back with a glass of Génépi, the borderline-toxic herbal liqueur produced by monks in the nearby Chartreuse valley.

79km

Degenkolb and Sagan are in animated discussion as the break passes through the feedzone. Meanwhile, Simon Geschke whips out his little gentleman to answer a call of nature.

83km

Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) has also retired from the race - the second today after Jerome Coppel, and probably not the last, with Van Garderen in mind.

85km

The gap is up to three minutes now for this break, which contains some stellar riders and could well be here to stay. They are: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jan Bakelants and Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot and Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ), Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche (Sky), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kristjian Durasek and Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTNèQhubeka).

92km

Interesting to see two Sky riders in the break in Porte and Roche - a smart tactical move by Dave Brailsford's men. Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo have two riders in Sagan and Rafal Majka while Quintana's Movistar have Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada and Gorka Izagirre.

93km

The yellow jersey group is 2:00 down on the break, while the Van Garderen group is 4:15 down.

94km

Serge Pauwels takes 2pts over the summit of the climb ahead of MTN team-mate Teklehaimanot, who wore the polka dot jersey back in the first week. They also have a third team-mate in this break - Merhawi Kudus, the youngest rider in the race.

96km

CRASH: Lieuwe Westra of Astana hits the deck - looks like he must have touched wheels with someone in the yellow jersey group, which trails the break by 1:45.

96km

Some big names in the break: Cannondale-Gamin duo Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Jan Bakelants (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep), Nico Roche (Team Sky), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Richie Porte (Sky), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka).

98km

We're onto the Cat.3 Col de Toutes Aures (6.1km at 3.1%). Sagan is in a group of 28 riders 1:30 ahead of the yellow jersey group.

100km

Rumours filtering through that Tejay Van Garderen may not make it through today's stage... The American is currently 2:35 behind his GC rivals in a second peloton.

105km

It's all change with around 20 riders - including Peter Sagan - now ahead of the pack by about 40 seconds. It's confusing but hopefully the race will settle soon as the riders edge onto the start of the next climb.

108km

History: Beware, whoever wears yellow! It's 40 years since the great Eddy Merckx - punched by a spectator the previous day - rode clear on the Col d'Allos before imploding on the final climb to Pra Loup, losing the stage and his yellow jersey to Frenchman Bernard Thevanet, who would go on to win the 1975 Tour and end the Belgian's reign at the top.

109km

Van Garderen is clearly having problems today - he's calling for the medical car. Sagan, Talansky and Kruijswijk have been caught by the main pack and around 30 riders are now clear - including the yellow and white jersey of Froome and Quintana.

110km

Here's a profile of the descent... and Van Garderen is now 1:20 behind the main pack.

112km

Guess what? Peter Sagan has joined Talansky and Kruijswick on the descent... The Slovakian clearly using his downhill skills to edge ahead of the main pack.

115km

Frenchman Jérôme Coppel (IAM) has withdrawn from the race. The 28-year-old was in 94th position.

116km

Two riders our ahead now on the descent of the Col des Lèques: Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

118km

Van Garderen already one minute down on his GC rivals - and there are still four more climbs to go - and they only get harder...

119km

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) crests the summit to take two KOM points and Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida) is second for one point. Remember, Poland's Majka won the polka dot jersey last year.

120km

Tejay Van Garderen has been dropped by the main pack. This doesn't bode well for the American from BMC, who is defending his third place in the Alps.

122km

That dig by Quintana and the response by Sky saw the main pack nullify the threat from the break, which has been reeled in. The upshot of this increase in tempo is that many riders are off the back - around 60-odd in fact.

124km

ATTACK BY NAIRO QUINTANA! The Colombian climber, wearing the white jersey, has a dig on the first climb of the day - and Team Sky are forced to reel the Movistar rider in.

125km

We're onto the Cat.3 Col des Lèques (6km at 5.3%). Pierre Rolland, Andrew Talansky, Rafal Majka, Michele Scarponi and Serge Pauwels are also in this leading group.

126km

Around 35 riders have managed to open up a gap - including Peter Sagan, Joaquim Rodriguez, Thibaut Pinot, Albert Timmer and Dani Navarro.

128km

Europcar now leading the pack. They have a few cards to play today in Thomas Voeckler, Cyril Gautier, Romain Sicard and, most importantly, Pierre Rolland. Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's team are also looking for a new sponsor so they will be looking to impress in the Alps with that two-week deadline looming like the sword of Damocles...

130km

We have five climbs today for a total of 29 KOM points. The current leader of the king of the mountains competition is Chris Froome, who leads double stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez by 61 points to 52. But given Froome is in yellow, it's the Spaniard from Katusha who yet again wears the polka dot jersey today.

132km

Talking of Astana, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali still thinks he can make the podium - despite trailing third place Van Garderen by over four minutes. "I'm very far away from the podium," Nibali told Gazzetta. "But it's not impossible. With a bit of luck, I can make it. Don't expect a solo attack in the middle of a mountain, something that guarantees they take you by the ears when they catch you later on. With fresher temperatures I'll go better and the rain isn't a problem for me. I've never felt super for all of this year. I was more self confident and determined one year ago. I'm not pissed off. I haven't been able to live normally after I won the Tour. But I'll play my cards in the Alps, and hopefully win a stage."

135km 

FDJ clearly want something from today's stage - they send Jeremy Roy up the road, but it comes to nothing thanks to the fierce pace-setting by Astana on the front of the pack.

138km

Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was part of a large 30-man group to edge ahead of the pack on the run into the opening climb, but it came to nothing. Pinot was third in Paris last year, but has suffered this year and languishes in 19th place more than half an hour down on Chris Froome. He looked in line to win last Saturday's stage to Mende but was pipped by Britain's Steve Cummings at the finish.

140km

Interesting quote from Alberto Contador, the Giro d'Italia champion, today on the official Tour website, letour.com: "I feel better than in 2013. I feel better and better each day. I came to the Tour to win it, not simply to make the top 5. My goal remains unchanged. The peloton is tired. There'll be opportunities. I intend to make the best of them."

145km 

The peloton is roaring along at a fast pace causing numerous riders to be dropped, including Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) as well as Bennett, the lanterne rouge.

150km 

Swiss veteran Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) is the latest to have a pop, but last year's most combative rider is reeled in.

152km 

It was a short-lived attack from Sagan and his Dutch companion - the pair have been swallowed back up. And that's a big mouthful.

155km

UNBELIEVABLE! Sagan is on the offensive again... the indefatigable Tinkoff-Saxo rider has pulled out ahead of the peloton with Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo.

158km

Nine riders managed to open up a gap but it came to nothing. Meanwhile, Ireland's Sam Bennett, the lanterne rouge (last rider on GC), is already struggling. It's going to be a long day for the Bora-Argon 18 sprinter...

160km

Attacks aplenty from the gun... but nothing has stuck for now. It will be interesting to see if Peter Sagan tries his luck again today after the Slovakian was in the break for the last three days ahead of the rest day. He's just the kind of rider who could excel on the tricky descent of the Col d'Allos... Sagan currently leads the green jersey competition by 405 points to Andre Greipel's 316.

161km

They're under way! This stage - which was run during the Dauphine back in June and draws from a classic in 1975 (where Merckx was finally toppled by Thevanet) - should be a right corker. Bring it on...

11:50

And it's yet another sweltering day for the riders with the sun high in a bright blue sky and the temperature currently 33 degrees Celsius. A potential storm and some showers could well be on the cards, however...

11:48

The remaining 168 riders are currently rolling through the neutral zone ahead of today's official start. One non-starter today - Luxembourg's Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing).

11:46

A reminder that with five stages remaining the yellow jersey still adorns the shoulders of that man Froome from Team Sky, who leads Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by 3:10 and American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) by 3:32. Spaniards Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) lurk in fourth and fifth place at 4:02 and 4:23.

11:45

Catch up on some of the rest day gossip, plus look ahead at today's all-important stage in the latest episode of Bonjour Le Tour - including yours truly riding a bike and sifting through Chris Froome's power data...

11:40

Hello and welcome back to live coverage of the 102nd edition of the Tour de France - and after a much needed rest day on the apron of the Alps. Today is the first of four successive days in the high Alps, with five climbs on the menu for the 161km ride from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup.