So, that's four wins each now for Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma, with QuickStep and Lotto Soudal on three each and Groupama-FDJ, Bahrain Merida and Bora-Hansgrohe on one apiece.
Pont du Gard - Gap
Tour de France - 24 July 2019
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The remnants of the break are - and will - cross the line in dribs and drabs for the next few minutes and beyond having splintered ahead of the final climb with 20-odd kilometres remaining. The peloton, meanwhile, is still 18 minutes down so we'll have a long wait for the confirmation of the GC places.
Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) just holds on for third place at 38 seconds before Gren van Avermaet (CCC Team) leads the rest of the chasers home a couple of seconds back.
Victory for Matteo Trentin of Mitchelton-Scott! A third Tour stage win for the Italian European champion - and a fourth win in this year's Tour for Mitchelton-Scott after Daryl Impey and two for Simon Yates.
Under the flamme rouge for the Italian...
Meanwhile, back in the pack and there's some BEEF between Tony Martin and Luke Rowe, with the German veteran trying to ride his Welsh counterpart off the road. Nasty manoeuvre there - and there must be a back story about that one...
Trentin still has 400m on Asgreen...
Trentin is on course for a third win on the Tour after his previous scalps in 2013 and 2014.
Izagirre and Skujins have jined Perichon in pursuit of Asgreen and Trentin.
Asgreen is 28 seconds down on Trentin, Perichon is 36 seconds down and the Van Avermaet group is 47 seconds.
Over the top goes the European champion Matteo Trentin. Behind, Asgreen has caught and passed Perichon ahead of the summit, which he crests with a deficit of around 25 seconds.
Kasper Asgreen puts in an attack from the chase group and the young Dane rides clear. But surely it's too little, too late.
Postlberger has joined Bora teammate Oss in the chase group, which has also been boosted by the presence of Herrada, Perichon's Cofidis teammate, and Teuns. But they still trail Trentin by 40 seconds.
This is a superb effort from Trentin who, provided he can go over the summit in pole position, can win a fourth stage for Mitchelton-Scott. He's unzipped his jersey and is pouring water over his head and neck. The Italian has 23 seconds on Perichon and another 10 seconds on Van Avermaet, Asgreen, Oss, Izagirre and Skujins.
They're onto the Cat.3 Col de la Sentinelle (5.2km at 5.4%). Trentin has Perichon in pursuit, 13 seconds down and just ahead of the others, with the second group of escapees 55 seconds down.
With Stake Laengen, Périchon, Scully and King all dropped, Trentin makes his move just ahead of the start of the categorised climb.
But it's not a given because the leading group of 10 is starting to play mind games. King puts in a big attack on an incline, then hits the wall, as does Scully... it's whittling down fast.
The gap continues to grow for the leaders - they have 35 seconds now.
Nils Politt is trying to bridge over solo to the lead group, which has dropped Gougeard. It's a very intersting dynamic as many of the 10 leaders have teammates in the second group and so they have a little leeway.
The gap is 18 seconds between the two factions of the break.
The break has split in two now as Trentin, Oss, Laengen, Izagirre, Van Avermaet, Skujins, Perichon, King, Gougeard, Asgreen and Scully ride clear.
Gougeard and King are the latest of the esapees to have a pop, with Juul-Jensen in pursuit.
Politt and Keukeleire are now giving it some welly on the front of the break, which they have strung out in a long line with their acceleration. It's going to be like this from here on as the mind games and tactical manoeuvres start ahead of the finish.
Gougeard, Clarke and Schar are now setting a fast tempo after that Mollema move came to nothing. Behind, Morkov and Richeze chink cans of Coke on the front of the peloton - living the life of Riley, those two.
Bauke Mollema, the experienced Dutchman, is the first to roll the die. The Trek rider won a similar stage in the Massif Central a couple of years ago and he clearly thinks that this break needs to be whittled down a little ahead of the climb.
The first cracks in the break start to appear as it breaks into two as they pass fields of fruit trees on the rolling plateau ahead of the final climb. We had lavender earlier, but apples are the name of the game right now. The break reforms but it's a sign that this 33-man move lacks cohesion for all the minutes it has over the pack.
We're entering the final 50km and Nils Politt, with those trademark white gnashers of his, is talking to his Katusha DS off the back of the break, which still has 14 minutes as they negotiate their way through yet another breathtaking gorge (today's stage is a real beauty and one I'd love to recreate on the bike).
The familiar presence of Michael Morkov, in his Danish champion's jersey, and Max Richeze, in his Argentine champion's jersey, adorns the front of the peloton, which now trails the break by 14 minutes. QuickStep riding on the front but only really going through the motions because the best placed rider in the break, Xandro Meurisse, is almost half an hour down on their man Alaphilippe in yellow.
It's absolutely pouring down on the break! A sudden shower has drenched the 33-man group while the peloton, who are almost 13 minutes behind, still edges along in sunshine.
And while we're taking about Wiggins...
Talking of Alaphilippe, here's what happened when Bradley Wiggins interviewed the current race leader...
Julian Alaphilippe is at the back of the pack as the peloton trundles up the climb - nothing serious, he just wants to pick up a can of Coke or something from his QuickStep team car. The Frenchman is enjoying his 13th day in yellow today. The gap is 11'25".
It's De Gendt who takes the solitary point over the summit to move onto 38 KOM points while consolidating the lead of his teammate Tim Wellens, who is the long-term polka dot jersey wearer on 64pts. Frenchman Thibaut Pinot splits the two Belgians up on 50pts.
With the terrain going uphill, Thomas De Gendt returns to his natural habitat: setting the tempo on the front of a break. They're onto the Cat.4 Cote de la Rochette-du-Buis (2.3km at 6.2%).
We've broken the 10-minute barrier so it's fair to day the winner will come from this group. And we have some very good candidates in Van Avermaet, Stuyven, Trentin, Clarke, Teuns, Boasson Hagen, Fraile, Politt and King...
The break enter the feed zone with a gap of almost 10 minutes now. Just the two stage winners from earlier in the race in this break - Belgians Dylan Teuns of Bahrain Merida, who won Stage 6 on the Super Planche des Belles Filles in the opening week, and Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal, who soloed into Saint-Etienne two days later.
It's quite blustery out there, which will be a tonic for the riders in this heat. They're currently riding uphill towards the base of the first categorised climb with the break 8'45" ahead of the pack.
Spectacular scenery today as the riders head right towards Mont Ventoux. They'll be happy to know that they're not heading up the Giant of Provence in today's fierce heat. The gap is up to eight minutes.
The advantage continues to grow. The break now has more then seven minutes which will put Meurisse above Romain Bardet into virtual 18th place. But the gap up to 17th place is another eight minutes and so he'll need a lot more time is he wants to rise further up the standings...
The Italian Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Gobert) is the only rider interested in intermediate sprint points. He zips clear to pocket the prize money and 20 points which puts him up to 73pts and, er, 13th place in the green jersey standings. Thomas De Gendt goes over in second place. The gap is six minutes now.
The Deceuninck-QuickStep team of Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey, have come to the front to keep tabs on the situation, as the unwritten rules of the Tour dictates. They have no interest in chasing down this break, but they have a duty to lead things given that their man is in yellow. Intermediate sprint coming up.
Chase over! After some pressure from Peter Sagan, the green jersey, Total-Direct Energie finally give up the ghost and call it a day. The gap stretches to four minutes and it looks like our winner today will be from this group of 33 riders up the road.
The gap is growing and so the Total team would be better of directing their energy into other things, such as picking up water bottles and keeping hydrated. It's 2'30" now.
The gap grows to above two minutes now but break are still having to work for this advantage.
An interesting stat here: only seven teams have posted wins so far in this year's Tour and so 15 teams are still without a win. Could today be the day, or will greedy Lotto Soudal or Mitchelton-Scott get another?
Peter Sagan, who leads the green jersey standings by 309pts to Elia Viviani's 224pts, is joining Orla and the boys in the Breakaway after today's stage. Which should be interesting, to say the least.
The average pace so far today is a ridiculous 55.58km/h. That two-man chase came to nothing and Total-Direct Energie now have five riders on the front of the pack trying to bring the break to heel. It's a futile effort but they're doing so so that they can look their manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau in the eye later today after the stage, when the hairdryer is bound to come out.
Two riders have gone clear of the pack and are trying to bridge over: Anthony Turgis (Total-Direct Energie) and Elie Gesbert (Arkea-Samsic). But the peloton, who trail the leaders now by 1'10", are having nothing of it.
The 33 riders in this break (courtesy of LeTour's official website) are: Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Omar Fraile and Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Simon Clarke and Tom Scully (EF Education First), Chris Juul-Jensen and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Greg van Avermaet and Michael Schär (CCC), Sven Erik Bystrom, Rui Costa, Sergio Henao and Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Bauke Mollema, Thomas Skujins and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Natnael Berhane, Jesús Herrada, Anthony Pérez and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis), Thomas de Gendt and Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Xandro Meurisse and Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ben King (Dimension Data).
Bad luck for Magnus Cort Nielsen, who picks up a flat tyre while in the break. That will spell the end to his time and bring their numbers down to 33.
The break's advantage is up to 45 seconds but it's still a fierce battle because the front of the peloton is having nothing of this - stringing out the riders behind them and tailing a few of them off, including Team Ineos' Wout Poels.
The best-placed rider on GC in this break is Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) who is 28'25" down in 19th place. The chase is being led by Sunweb, who have a rider in this break, but who clearly want to inveigle Michael Matthews into it as well.
Some names for you in this big break: Mollema, Herrada, Van Avermaet, Roche, Stuyven, Trentin, Izagirre, Costa, Teuns, Boasson Hagen, De Gendt, Fraile, Politt, King, Skujins, Oss, Berhane, Nielsen, Gougeard, Asgreen... The gap is 25 seconds but there's a fierce chase from the teams who have missed the break, primarily Total-Direct Energie and Arkea-Samsic.
There's a split as around 35 riders manage to zip clear of the peloton. This is a big move and contains some big-name riders.
Attacks from the outset with Maxim Bouet (Arkea-Samsic) kicking things off before Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) picks up the pace. Katusha and Astana show some interest...
And they're off!
Two non-starters today: Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Cees Bol (Sunweb). The Dutchman went down in that crash which saw Sanchez's teammate Fuglsang withdraw yesterday. As for the Spaniard, it's unclear if he also was hurt or is just calling it a day because of the team's upset dynamic. Presumably the former, because today's stage would have suited him on paper... So, we're down to 160 riders in the peloton now.
It's another sweltering day in south France with the temperature currently 35 degrees but likely to break through the 40-degree barrier later this afternoon. The riders are currently rolling through the neutral zone, which started at the Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard, which the riders also crossed yesterday.
Here's the stage profile with those two categorised climbs ahead of a fast finish into Gap. It's a perfect breakaway scenario - although it also suits the punchy sprinters like Sagan, Matthews, Van Avermaert and Colbrelli. It’s also the kind of stage that would usually suit the yellow jersey Alaphilippe to a tee - although given Jakob Fuglsang’s predicament, it’s safe to assume that Astana will be keen to get bodies in the break. Alexey Lutsenko or Omar Fraile for the win, then.
Yesterday, Australia’s Caleb Ewan notched his second win of the Tour de France with a well-timed surge to the line to deny Elia Viviani and Dylan Groenewegen in Nimes on a day Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang crashed out of the race and defending champion Geraint Thomas survived a scare.
Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of Stage 17 of the Tour de France - a lumpy 200km ride from the historic Pont du Gard to Gap.