25/07/18 - 14:15
Bagnères-de-Luchon - Col de Portet
Tour de France • Stage17

Bagnères-de-Luchon - Col de Portet

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Despite Thomas' heroics and Martin's brave chase, the day belongs to this man - Nairo Quintana. Thanks for joining me and see you tomorrow for the final day in the Pyrenees... this race is far from over!


Meanwhile, it should be ok for Arnaud Demare... and with Sagan crashing today, the Frenchman could be favourite to win on the Champs Elysees - provided he can get to Paris.


Cheers up - you may have just won the Tour...


Confirmation of today's result.


Bernal drags Froome over the line 1:36 in arrears and alongside Landa. To add insult to temporal injury, boos ring down on the defending champion.


Dan Martin crosses the line for second place 28 seconds down. Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas has dropped his rivals to take third place at 48 seconds and pick up an extra four bonus seconds. The chasing Dutch duo come over the line a few seconds back...


Victory for Nairo Quintana of Movistar! The Colombian is back with his first Tour stage win in five years...


Froome really struggling here... he could drop off the podium.


Quintana still has 20 seconds on Martin and so should win this. Dumoulin is back with Roglic and Tour winner-elect Thomas.


Last kilometre for Quintana, who should hold on here. Meanwhile, Roglic has attacked again. Thomas has it covered but Dumoulin and Kruijswijk are momentarily distanced. Further back, Landa rides just ahead of Sky duo Froome and Bernal.


Now Dumoulin goes! The Dutchman attacks... Thomas goes with him, as do the LottoNL-Jumbo duo. But Froome has been dropped.


Roglic is reeled in, Bernal comes to the front to calm things down, and Froome is back in there. But it's clear that the Giro champion doesn't have the same legs that he had on the Colle delle Finestre. He's there for the taking and we should surely expect an attack from Dumoulin before the end.


Big attack by Roglic! Thomas responds. Dumoulin and Kruijswijk follow, as does Bernal. But Landa and Froome take time to react...


Rafal Majka has been caught by this elite group so just the two riders up the road now: Quintana and Martin. Meanwhile, the Colombian lone leader passes under the 3km to go banner. He still has 300 vertical metres to scale. Martin is 22 seconds down so it's no given yet.


Bardet is about to be caught by Ilnur Zakarin, which sums up how much of a bad day he's having.


Kruijswijk is back with the other favourites and it's Bernal back on the front. They still trail Quintana by 1:08 with Martin in between at 28 seconds. Bardet is now 1:35 behind the lone leader.


Froome has now edged up next to Thomas and ahead of Roglic and Dumoulin. The four-time champion is clearly weary of Dumoulin, who he needs to put time into what with that ITT in the penultimate stage.


ATTACK: Steven Kruijswijk puts in a dig to open up a small gap. As a result, both Valverde and Poels are dropped.


The group of favourites is: Poels, Bernal, Thomas, Roglic, Kruijswijk, Landa, Valverde, Dumoulin and Froome. They're 1:12 down on lone leader Quintana, who has Martin in pursuit.


Froome and Bardet are on the back as Poels drags the main GC pack round a corner and alongside Valverde. AND BARDET CRACKS! The Frenchman loses it and a gap appears...


Quintana rides clear of Majka, who looks to have cracked.


Martin trails the leaders by 20 seconds with the yellow jersey group - led by Poels - 50 seconds back. Bardet is right on the back and looks like he could struggle.


Martin has now passed Kangert, who was easily dropped by the two leaders. But the main yellow jersey group are only 1:05 back so the winner could still yet come from the main group of GC favourites.


Just to confirm that Peter Sagan, who crashed on the previous descent, is back on his bike but trails the leaders by 11:30. Arnaud Demare, meanwhile, is 18:12 in arrears and faces a fight to beat the time cut on this short stage, where he won't be able to ship 40 minutes like he did on yesterday's 218km stage...


Quintana and Majka are just 10 seconds away from Kangert, who is tiring fast. The Pole hasn't pulled at all - the Colombian is riding so bullishly, he probably hasn't noticed. This is vintage Quintana - the kind we haven't seen for a few years - but will it be enough?


Castroviejo has now been dropped so we have nine riders in this GC group: Thomas, Froome, Bernal, Poels (Sky), Roglic, Kruijswijk (Jumbo), Bardet (AG2R), Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Landa (Movistar). Pellizotti and Martinez were there but have just lost contact.


This is what's in store... the climb was gravel until being asphalted recently ahead of the Tour.


Valverde has been dropped by Quintana and Majka. He's going to be caught by Martin soon. Kangert has 1:30 over the yellow jersey group and so the gaps are all very small.


Blimey, Jonathan Castroviejo is also there for Sky. They have five riders in this 10-man select group. That's crazy.


And Sky's hand just got stronger: Wout Poels is back with the main pack - and the boos start to ring out from the side of the road as Thomas is preceded by Sky team-mates Poels, Bernal and Froome as they chase the riders out ahead. It's Kangert who leads Valverde-Quintana-Majka by 1:05 with Dan Martin another 10 seconds back and the yellow jersey group at 1:40.


Sky still in a very comfortable position with Bernal, Froome and Thomas in this main group, who pass Fraile, who appears to have slowed down to drop back and help his Astana leader Jacob Fuglsang, who was dropped in those series of accelerations.


Dumoulin manages to drag the chasers back to Roglic and Froome. Meanwhile, Quintana has caught the Valverde-Majka-Martinez-Fraile quartet.


Dumoulin leads the chase with Thomas in his wheel and Kruijswijk, Landa, Bardet and Bernal just behind.


ATTACK: Primoz Roglic dances clear and takes Froome with him! No reaction from Thomas and Dumoulin, who sticks with the yellow jersey.


Quintana catches Yates and then they catch Alaphilippe. When the Colombian rides clear, yesterday's two main protagonists shake hands. A nice touch there from Alaphilippe, who took his win after Yates crashed on the final descent yesterday.


Quintana has dropped Martin and already has 30 seconds on the other GC riders. Meanwhile, Kangert is now the lone leader having shed Alaphilippe early on this climb. He's being pursued by Valverde, Majka and Martinez, who are 1:10 back.


ATTACK: Nairo Quintana puts in a huge dig from the yellow jersey group, initially taking Dan Martin with him. Actually, it was the other way around - as you can see below...


Show time: we're onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.HC Col du Portet (16km at 8.7%). At 2,215m this is the highest point of the Tour and as such the Souvenir Henri Desgrange. There are a double 40pts up for grabs over the summit in the polka dot jersey battle and some double-digit hairpins along the way. It's been dubbed as the hardest Pyrenean climb ever to feature in the Tour - and this is its first ever appearance, so let's see what happens...


Meanwhile, that was a climbing record on the Col de Val Louron-Azet following the pace-setting by Ag2R-La Mondiale...


More on Peter Sagan, who crashed on the last descent...


Our leading duo of Kangert and Alaphilippe are split when the Estonian takes the wrong route around a roundabout, forcing the Frenchman to slow up and wait for his companion. They've completed the downhill with a gap of 50 seconds over Durasek and pass through Saint Lary with 2:35 over the pack with a five-man chase group of Valverde, Majka, Martinez, Fraile and Pellizotti riding in between at 1:10.


CRASH: We're hearing that Peter Sagan has crashed on the descent. Let's hope it's nothing serious. Provided he reaches Paris, the world champion will win a record sixth green jersey. He's on 452 points at the moment - and should he be forced out, the green jersey would go to Alexander Kristoff, who has a paltry 170pts.


The sun has come back out and it looks to be clearing at the finish...


The gap is 2'06" for the yellow jersey pack going over the summit.


Alaphilippe pockets another 10pts over the summit ahead of Kangert, with Durasek distanced a little for third place. Valverde lead the four chasers over about 25 seconds down. The yellow jersey group is about 35-strong now after sweeping up some of those escapees. Kwiatkowski is back on the front and Poels has also returned for Sky, who have Bernal as well as their GC two-pronged attack of Thomas and Froome. Dumoulin, Roglic and Kruijswijlk still there and keeping quiet ahead of the final climb.


Less than a kilometre now to the summit for the three leaders as the main pack come close to reeling in the second chase group - the likes of Mollema, Geschke, Rolland, Yates and Izagirre... But Pierre Latour has blown! So Bardet is now isolated in the main group.


Marc Soler is back with the main yellow jersey group and he's driving the tempo on the front - paving the way for Landa and Quintana, who still have Valverde up the road.


The chase group is down to four with Majka, Valverde, Fraile and Martinez. They trail the three leaders by 45 seconds with the yellow jersey group a further two minutes back.


Latour, burying himself something rotten, and Bardet lead the main pack with UAE Team Emirates duo Martin and Atapuma (dropped form the early chase group) behind and ahead of the Sky train of Bernal, Kwiatkowski, Thomas and Froome. Poels is on the back of the yellow jersey group - so either feeling the pinch or taking a breather.


Impressive riding from Peter Sagan, the green jersey, who is only just dropped from the main GC pack. Up with the chasers, Adam Yates has been dropped. He came so close to a maiden Grand Tour stage win yesterday but crashed 7km from the finish...


With 5km to go until the summit the Alaphilippe trio still haev 1:10 over the chasing group of 12 riders. Meanwhile, the yellow jersey group is now only about 25-strong. Dillier has blown as Latour accelerates with Bardet and takes Dan Martin with him. Another Martin, Guillaume, has been dropped - good news for Latour, for he is his main rival in the battle for the white youth jersey.


Oli Naesen has blown after his pacing duties for Ag2R-La Mondiale so Sylvan Dillier takes over with Pierre Latour behind and then Bardet. The problem is that Sky still have five riders together and they're not pacing - so they could still arrive with numbers at the foot of the final climb, whereas Bardet will probably be isolated at this rate...


Back with the pack and it's all kicking off: Sky have been muscled off the front as Ag2R-La Mondiale come to the front for Romain Bardet. Movistar are also there as the Sky train drops back a fair bit - and little gaps are beginning to open.


Our leaders hit the second climb of the day, the Cat.1 Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4km at 8.3%) which has a nasty double-digit ramp in the first third.


Kangert leads the trio through the intermediate sprint in an uncontested affair which won't go down in the annals of unmissable intermediate sprints of the Tour.


This is what it looked like a little earlier before the weather closed in...


Not the best view from atop today's final climb... It's cloudy where the riders are at the moment, but misty on the Col du Portet with a chance of rain.


Alaphilippe and Durasek catch Kangert so we have three riders ahead with the second climb coming right up after the intermediate sprint.


A little anecdote from yesterday that will further enamour and endear you to Julian Alaphilippe: apparently he wanted to slow up and wait for Adam Yates after his crash on the final descent yesterday - but was ordered to ride on from his directeur sportif. What a legend.


It may all come back together on this 9km descent. The Alaphilippe trio are 15 seconds back, then it's another minute back to the nine chasers: Valverde, Yates, Majka, Martinez, Edet, Fraile, Navarro, Pellizotti and Soler. The pack came over the summit 3:25 down and with Quintana just about getting back on after that double mechanical...


Quintana stops again for another wheel change - either he picked up another flat or he wasn't too happy with Amador's wheel...


Tanel Kangert takes the points over the top of the Montee de Peyragudes with Julian Alaphilippe adding another 8pts after leading the chasing trio over in second place. With Warren Barguil seemingly giving up the defence of his polka dot crown, Alaphilippe should be crowned king of the mountain in Paris.


Puncture for Nairo Quintana! The Colombian stops to receive a wheel swap with team-mate Andrey Amador - but neither of them have particularly strong mechanic skills and it takes an age to carry out. Still, the pace is so slow that the Movistar leader should get back on ok - after all, Luke Rowe is still setting the tempo.


Meanwhile, Kangert is over the top of the Peyresourde and now drops down before hanging a left ahead of the final rise to the top of the Peyragudes. He has 18 seconds on the chasing trio.


Durasek and Herrada are back with Alaphilippe, but it's the Frenchman who is driving the pace as he does his best to reel in Kangert before the summit. He wants to pocket as many KOM points as possible, knowing all too well that the big guns will be the ones competing at the pointy end of the stage...


The large chase group has split into numerous factions, with six riders - Valverde, Majka, Edet, Fraile, Navarro and Soler - now in pursuit of the Alaphilippe group. Meanwhile, the yellow jersey pack now trails Kangert, our leader, by the best part of three minutes.


Tanel Kangert is alone out ahead now with a 20-second gap over the Alaphilippe-Herrada-Durasek trio. Behind there's a flurry of activity with Movistar with cards to play in Soler and Valverde, ditto Mitchelton-Scott with Yates and Nieve, who have both come so close to stage wins in the mountains only to come a cropper towards the end. Edet, who was with Kangert, has been dropped by him and the three chasers.


Great photo of Alaphilippe here from yesterday... he's been the stand-out performer for the host nation, that's for sure. In fact, he's the only French stage winner so far.


Alaphilippe, remember, leads the polka dot standings by 122 points to Warren Barguil's 73 points after his second win yesterday. His Tour is mirroring that of his KOM rival last year: Barguil won in Foix and atop the Izoard en route to securing the climber's jersey. Barguil is clearly keeping his powder dry for later on in the stage, which he reckons will be "special".


Julian Alaphilippe has now gone clear of the chase group in pursuit of more polka dot points. He's taken Herrada and Durasek with him, with Sicard holding on behind.


Here's how that 'grid start' experiment fared... you make your own judgement as to whether it was a success or not!


De Gendt and Romain Sicard zip clear in pursuit of the two leaders.


Right, back to the race and Kangert has been joined by Nicolas Edet of Cofidis out ahead. They have 20 seconds on a chasing group of around 20 riders: Martinez, Rolland, Geschke, G. Izagirre, Pellizotti, Yates, Soler, Valverde, Durasek, Alaphilippe, Majka, Mühlberger, Fraile, Vichot, De Gendt, Calmejane, Mollema, Herrada, Navarro. The Sky-led pack is one minute back.


One non-starter today: Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) has withdrawn after it emerged that he broke his patella in that plunge over the parapet yesterday... That means we're down to 146 riders.


The first of three climbs started as soon as the riders got going. It's the Cat.1 Montee de Peyragudes (14.9km at 6.7%) - the same slope that Froome went so fast on while travelling in the opposite direction two years ago ahead of his win at Bagneres-de-Luchon.


Now it's Franco Pellizotti who rides in pursuit of Kangert, with a De Gendt-led chase group forming behind. In the main pack, there are already six Sky riders - including Froome and Thomas - on the front. So it's fair to say that the staggered start idea didn't exactly change things much...


Calmejane's time at the front was short-lived and it's now Astana's Tanel Kangert who leads the way with Pierre Rolland (EF Education First) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) among those who are in pursuit.


Lilian Calmejane - who started back in 25th position on the grid - came right to the start before the first bend. Mirroring this, compatriot Arnaud Demare is right off the back from the outset of this stage, which goes uphill from the gun.


And they're off! And... well, that was an anti-climax. Nothing really happens except a few riders coming from behind to zip clear of the main GC contenders, who are clearly keeping their powder dry and awaiting their team-mates.


Right, let's get this show started...


And a reminder of the top 10 on GC with Geraint Thomas still leading team-mate Chris Froome by 1:39 and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin by a further 11 seconds. If it hasn't changed for a while, there's bound to be a GC shake-up today.


Here's more on the thinking behind the staggered start today.


Here's what that grid system looks like... something which won't quell the rumours that abound about motor-doping, eh?!


With 3,200m of vertical gain in just 65km, the race could explode from the outset. If Thomas can survive this rib-tickler with the yellow jersey still firmly on the back, then he may well become the favourite to take it all the way to Paris. There are also 60 points up for grabs in the king of the mountains competition - so we'll see a fierce battle for both the yellow and polka dots... Here's the official profile.


The shortest road stage in 30 years has been described as "dynamite" by Tour director Chrsitian Prudhomme, and will kick-off with a MotoGP-style staggered start for the first time in the race’s history. The first ever summit finish on the monstrous Col du Portet – at 2,215m, the highest point of the race and Souvenir Henri Desgrange – is preceded by the Cat.1 slogs up the Peyresourde and the Col de Val Lourdon-Azet, in the opposite direction from the stage in the 2016 Tour when Chris Froome showed of his daredevil descending skills en route to a win in Bagneres-de-Luchon.


Yesterday, Julian Alaphilippe took his second win of the Tour while extending his lead in the polka dot jersey standings in the opening day in the Pyrenees. The Frenchman won Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon after Britain’s Adam Yates crashed on the decisive final descent as Geraint Thomas retained his yellow jersey despite early disruption to the stage following an unsavoury farmer's protest. Read all about it below...


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the stage we've all been waiting for - this innovative 65km ride up three peaks from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan, which starts with the motosports-inspired staggered start and culminates with the race's first ever ascent of the Col du Portet, the highest point of this year's Tour. It's going to be a monster!