Tour de France – Stage 17 – Valverde wins from the Breakaway

Alejandro Valverde (MOV) has won the 17th stage of the Tour de France which partially salvaged a disaster of a Tour de France for both he and his Movistar team. Valverde and Movistar were caught up in many crashes early on in the race losing two teammates – Rojas and Plaza, and with Valverde losing time that put him out of top ten contention. From there, it was clear that conserving energy and paradoxically losing more time – to ensure he wouldn’t be chased down – to get a chance at a stage win. Valverde gambled today attacking with a group of other riders from the descent of Col de Mente and then really going for it from the base of the Port de Bales.

Teammate and Tour du Suisse winner Rui Costa was instrumental early on setting the pace for Valverde up the Port de Bales and breaking up the group of breakaway riders which included Thomas Voeckler (EUR) and Fredrik Kessiakoff (AST) who were battling it out for the King of the Mountains jersey. Once they break was whittled down to Leipheimer, Costa, Martinez and Ruben Plaza, Valverde attacked alone and went over the summit of the Port de Bales with a 2 minute 30 seconds lead on the Peloton. Thomas Voeckler went over the Bales before Kessiakoff and secured the Polka Dot jersey win.

As the main group approached the summit of the Peyragudes the lead Valverde had was tumbling fast as he began to suffer on the day. Ivan Basso took up the pace setting and dropped many of the main competitors including Cadel Evans who struggles with the slopes of the Pyrenees. Vincenzo Nibali also found himself off the back of the group as Sky took over from Basso and was fresh for the climb. As the finish approached Valverde looked cooked, wrestling his bike up the steep slopes to the flat final km. Chris Froome was hot in pursuit with Wiggins in tow, and Froome was letting the world know he felt good today, wildly gesturing for his Captain to pick up the pace. The showmanship Froome was displaying will be great for pages of internet debate, but probably the race wouldn’t be worse without it. As Valverde approached the finish his lead had all but evaporated, but he found a little time to celebrate and take in the win.

Tomorrow, a lumpy stage for another breakaway. This is approaching last chance territory for some teams so expect an agrressive break attempt. Cofidis, Euskaltel, OPQS, Katusha and Lampre are all searching for a reason to celebrate at the Tour.

Stage 17 Top Ten
1. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)__4h12’11”
2. Chris Froome (SKY)________+19″
3. Bradley Wiggins (SKY)
4. Thibault Pinot (FDJ)______+22″
5. Pierre Rolland (EUR)______+26″
6. Jurgen VanDenBroeck (LTB)
7. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ)_____+37″
8. Teejay VanGarderen (BMC)__+54″
9. Chris Horner (RNT)________+1’02”
10. Dan Martin (GRS)_________+1’11”

Full Overall Classification: LeTour.fr

Overall Classification after Stage 17
1. Bradley Wiggins (SKY)_____78h28’02”
2. Chris Froome (SKY)________+2’05”
3. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ)_______+2’41”
4. Jurgen VanDenBroeck (LTB)_+5’53”
5. Teejay Vangarderen (BMC)__+8’30”
6. Cadel Evans (BMC)________+9’57”
7. Haimar Zubeldia (RNT)_____+10’11”
8. Pierre Rolland (EUR)______+10’17”
9. Janez Brajkovic (AST)_____+11’00”
10. Thibault Pinot (FDJ)_______+11’46”
11. Nicolas Roche (ALM)_______+12’58”
12. Andreas Kloden (RNT)_____+14’09”
13. Chris Horner (RNT)_______+14’22”
14. Chris Sorenesen (SAX)____+18’34”
15. Denis Menchov (KAT)______+22’42”
16. Maxime Monfort (RNT)_____+24’24”
17. Egoi Martinez (EUS)______+25’32”
18. Rui Costa (MOV)__________+29’43”
19. Eduard Vorganov (KAT)____+33’07”
20. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)_+33’38”

Full Overall Classification: LeTour.fr

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