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Tour de France 2018: Quintana wins solo on summit finish as Thomas extends lead

Joe Robinson
25 Jul 2018

Froome finds himself dropped in the final few kilometres while Quintana wins the stage solo

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) snatched the 65km stage to the Col du Portet with an impressive solo attack as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) solidified his yellow jersey lead. Defending champion Chris Froome found himself dropped in the final few kilometres, losing time on Thomas. 

Stage winner Quintana attacked near the base of the final climb of the day, eventually riding into the finish alone. Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) rolled across the line 28 seconds adrift of Quintana.

Thomas took third on the stage, picking up a few bonus seconds, extending his lead on Froome, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).

The small stage, as it happened

Stage 17 of the Tour de France ran from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Col du Portet. It was. only 65km and the peloton began in a unique F1 grid style format. 

This caused excitement across the cycling world. What would happen? Will riders attack from the off? Would this be the opportunity for the likes of Bardet, Roglic and Dumoulin to claw back Thomas?

The riders sat in their pens. A F1 style screen flashed coloured circles before the start. Red, amber, green. They were off.

Nothing happened. Not a thing. The GC guys sat up and before long the entire Team Sky had made their way to the front, even Luke Rowe. He was nearly dead last.

Tangel Kangert (Astana) was the first rider to roll the dice off of the front. He is 21st on GC at over 22 minutes down so no threat to Thomas, Froome et al. Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) then joined Kangert, forging ahead on the first climb.

Behind, the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), and Kristian Durasek (UAE-Team Emirates) chased behind, in no man's land between the leaders and trundling peloton.

Kangert seemed to be on a good day, at least for the first climb. His lead was 3 minutes 17 over the Team Sky-led peloton taking maximum climbing points over the Montee de Peyragudes.

Slight panic for Nairo Quintana (Movistar) as he punctured. Thanks to a teammate, he was handed a new wheel pretty swiftly although less than a kilometre he was stopping again this time for his team car to replace his front wheel again. By the summit of the first climb, the Colombian had grabbed the coattails of the main group.

Kangert was then caught by Alaphilippe and Durasek as they approached the second climb with less than 40km left to race.

On the attack again today was Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), fresh after crashing on the final descent of Stage 16, and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) forming part of a large chase group in between the lead three and the peloton,  that also included Movistar's Valverde. 

Taking over from Team Sky at the front was AG2R La Mondiale with Paris-Roubaix runner up Silvain Dillier and Oliver Naesen with Pierre-Roger Latour and Bardet close at hand.

Team Sky let a small gap go around 10 riders back although this was quickly closed. Rowe was spent and began to drift back through the peloton.

Kilometre 34 was attack time as Latour increased the pace with Bardet in the wheel. Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) followed as Team Sky reassumed the role of chasers although this did expend Wout Poels for the British WorldTour team. The Dutchman was now hanging on the back of the group.

The lead three were being hunted down by Valverde and three others, including stage winner Omar Fraile (Astana). Valverde could prove a great marker for Landa and Quintana later in the day.

Marc Soler dropped back from he break to set tempo for Movistar, helping Latour and AG2R La Mondiale. Latour was spent but no attack from Bardet. The Frenchman was now alone in the front group exposed to the might of Team Sky.

The second summit, the Col de Val Louron-Azet, was crested first by Alaphilippe, just like the first, allowing him to further solidify his lead in the polka dot jersey.

By the time of the last descent, Team Sky still had five riders in the lead group with just one climb,  the mighty Col du Portet left to ride. Surely this was game, set and match? 

Way behind the lead group, word began to filter through of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) crashing. 

Group Alaphilippe now had a 2 minute 25 lead over the lead group, surely a small enough group to see the GC boys contest the win. By the base of the Portet, Alaphilippe was cooked dropping off of Kangert. 

Soler was continuing to set the pace for Team Sky and Movistar as they chased the latter chased the team classification. Thankfully, this was annulled with an attack from Quintana and Martin. 

Quintana then dropped Martin forging a 30 second lead with the majority of the Portet left to climb. He was making inroads as Roglic was the next to attack being followed by Froome, not Thomas.

Thomas was busy sitting on the wheel of Dumoulin who now led the large group of favourites. Froome was not giving Roglic any turns but was extending his lead over the yellow jersey group.

Team Sky were now left with just Egan Bernal in terms of domestiques although the pressure was still on Dumoulin to chase Froome and Roglic, with the Dutchman entering time trial mode. Maximum power for the final 12km.

Bernal took over from Dumoulin as Froome and Roglic were caught. Time for the young Colombian to steady the ship and prove his worth, just like Alpe d'Huez earlier in the race. Thankfully for the yellow jersey, the pace had settled enough for Poels to also chase back on.

Quintana had meanwhile caught Valverde ahead. The Spaniard was setting a hard tempo for his teammate who looked comfortable in his wheel before the Colombian began to. take control, riding through to up the pace. High altitude was coming, terrain Quintana thrives in.

Kangert was then caught and dropped by Quintana and Rafal Majka, who now had over 1 minute on the yellow jersey group. The lead duo had now hit the second half of the climb where the gradient was expected to bite.

Fighting hard, Martin was closing in on Quintana and could prove a vital ally in the GC fight. He was just 20 seconds adrift with under 7km left to ride. Majka then broke the elastic to Quintana leaving the Colombian alone.

Bardet cracked and was dropped from the GC group while Froome was precariously close to the back bouncing over his bike.

The next attack came from the wide shoulders of Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) which saw the end of Poels but not Thomas, Froome or Bernal.

The gap between yellow and Quintana had stayed at 1 minute 10 mark for many kilometres with Team Sky happy to concede this time.

Roglic goes with 2.3km to go, Thomas followed and Froome found himself dropped. Bernal and Dumoulin maanged to catch back up as did Kruijswijk. Then Froome got back on thanks to Bernal's control.

Next to go was Dumoulin, maybe realising Froome was on the limit. The defending champion could not react straight away but Thomas and LottoNL-Jumbo boys could.

With a kilometre left to race, Quintana was riding to stage victory as Thomas was riding to a first Tour victory.

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