Tour de France: I knew Carapaz was bluffing, says Pogacar

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Cyclingnews.com 14 July, 2021 - 11:23am 42 views

Who won today's stage of the Tour de France?

On Tuesday, Patrick Konrad won his first ever Tour de France stage with a brilliant solo effort. Tadej Pogacar retained his yellow jersey over Rigoberto Uran by 5'18" in the overall Tour de France classification. MARCA.comTour de France 2021 Stage 17, LIVE: Pogacar wins, final results and classification

Tour de France Stage 17 LIVE

podiumcafe.com 14 July, 2021 - 02:07pm

By Jens on Jul 14, 2021, 5:29am EDT 554

First of two mighty mountain finishes. There's no hiding anymore, time to take out the recycling and get down to your socks 'cause it's business time.

Let's not kid ourselves, if they take this seriously (which they should) and don't let the stinkin' breakaway win this , chances are boy wonder takes it pretty easily.

Champion Pogacar triumphs on Tour de France mountain - France 24

FRANCE 24 14 July, 2021 - 12:12pm

Tadej Pogacar emerged above the clouds atop the Pyrenean Col du Portet to extend his overall lead and win stage 17 of the Tour de France on Wednesday after an epic struggle with his two closest pursuers, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz.

Ecuadorian Carapaz launched a blistering attack 1.5km from the 2,200m summit finish, but was agonisingly reeled in by the defending champion Pogacar, for whom this was an iconic career moment, winning a tough stage with the overall leader's yellow jersey already on his back.

After pulverising the field on the stage 5 time-trial the Slovenian took his second victory on this Tour to extend his lead over the surprising Dane Vingegaard to 5min 39sec.

The discreet Carapaz climbed to third overall four seconds back, after Rigoberto Uran was dropped on the final hillside. The Colombian slipped to fourth at 7min 17sec.

"It was the most difficult stage of the Tour, and I dedicate this win to my team who worked so hard for me here," said Pogacar.

"This Tour isn't over until the last lap of the Champs-Elysees," he said when asked if he believed the defence of his title was now sealed.

On the French national holiday of Bastille Day, there were almost as many Slovenian flags on the final climb as French one's and a healthy smattering of Basque berets were being sported in the huge crowds that lined the slopes.

French fans had plenty to smile about as FDJ's home hope David Gaudu came fourth at a finish line above the clouds in this remote bear-inhabited corner of France.

Up-and-coming climber Gaudu raced the stage with the French tri-colour on his helmet.

Another French team AG2R saw their Australian podium hope Ben O'Connor consolidate fifth overall as he rounded out the day's top five having previously won the Alpine stage to the Tignes ski resort.

AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu told AFP that the stage, with 36km of steep climbing on the final section, was a "race for second place and that half the pretenders will be dropped here."

It proved to be so, but Ineos man Carapaz, who looked to be struggling after the lead trio broke off from the pretenders 8km from home, kept fighting with his late but fruitless burst.

Before Vingegaard attacked an elite clique on the Mont Ventoux last week he was a relative unknown.

Since then the painfully shy Jumbo man from the remote Danish region of North Jutland has emerged as a serious podium pretender.

With his team down to four riders, he admitted that on Wednesday "the plan was just to follow."

He cemented his grip on second by surviving the climb up Col du Portet and said he was "relieved, happy and proud" and explained his family were at the finish line.

The leader had warm words for the man on his tail.

"He's fantastic, a top class rider," said Pogacar, who like Vingegaard is on his second Tour de France.

"I like racing against him. He's a super good guy and he could win a Tour de France soon," Pogacar said.

One last mountaintop finish awaits the riders Thursday before Saturday's potentially decisive time-trial and Sunday's parade into Paris.

Tour de France: Pogacar stamps his authority on the race on Col du Portet

Cyclingnews.com 14 July, 2021 - 10:21am

Urán fades as Carapaz, Vingegaard solidify podium positions

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) stamped his authority on the Tour de France with a second stage victory atop the highest summit finish of the race, the Col du Portet.

The Slovenian, who split the general classification contender's group with an attack halfway up the 16-kilometre hors-catégorie climb, took podium contenders Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) with him as second-placed man Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) dropped off the podium.

The trio only put more and more time into the chase group over the final eight kilometres of the stage as Sergio Higuita chased on behalf of Urán, as Pogačar tested his companions with repeated accelerations on the way up the steep slopes.

He couldn't, however, drop them on the way up, though Carapaz – who had stuck on the back of the group and looked to be in trouble – did manage to drop Vingegaard with an acceleration at 1.5 kilometres out.

"The team worked really hard every day to defend yellow," Pogačar said after the finish. "Every day was good for the breakaway so every day we couldn't do much, just defend. Today was a good course to defend the breakaway much better and the guys did a fantastic job. We were 50-50 – do we go for the stage or defend. In the end everyone felt good, and we tried, we succeeded and I'm super happy.

"The three of us went clear but only me and Jonas worked together. I tried a couple of times to go clear – more time is better. But they were really good today. In the end I just sprint for the last 50 metres and it was enough."

Meanwhile, Urán, who was the last man to stick with the lead trio before dropping just inside the eight-kilometre mark, was the big loser of the day, dropping from second to fourth overall as he crossed the line 1:49 down on Pogačar in ninth place. The Colombian now lies 7:17 down and 1:34 away from third-placed Carapaz, with Thursday's mountain stage and Saturday's time trial still to run.

He is now set to be riding on the defensive from Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) after the Australian took 23 seconds with a late attack on the climb. O'Connor is now 17 seconds behind Urán ahead of stage 18's summit finish on Luz Ardiden. Further back, there was little change in the overall standings, with Enric Mas (Movistar) taking seventh from Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) the only movement of note.

As well as winning the stage and adding 21 seconds to his overall lead, Pogačar also moves into the battle for the polka dot jersey for the second year in a row. With his stage win adding 40 points to his KOM total, he now lies on 67 points, just 11 down on Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) with a maximum of 62 points available on stage 18 – including another 40 at the finish.

Stage 17 of the Tour de France saw a return to the high mountains in the Pyrenees as the peloton rode towards the highest summit finish of the race at the Col de Portet – 2,209 metres above sea level.

In contrast to the mountainous finale of the 178.4-kilometre stage, the opening 115 kilometres provided a long, dull run on flat roads with no obstacles to speak of for the break or peloton. After several hours on the road from Muret, the riders would hit the Col du Peyresourde (13.2km at 7 per cent) after the intermediate sprint at Bagnères-de-Luchon.

After an 11-kilometre descent into Loudenvielle, the Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4km at 8.3 per cent) followed, before a descent to Saint-Lary-Soulan and the final, hors-catégorie climb of the Col du Portet (16.4km at 8.7 per cent).

Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) was the first man to attack from the peloton, riding off alone right from the start before being caught after 15 kilometres of racing. Soon afterwards, a small group got away and put more space between themselves and the peloton.

Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) was joined out front by Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Dorian Godon (AG2R Citroën), Anthony Turgis (Team TotalEnergies) and Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) in what was hardly a star-studded breakaway on such a hard mountain stage.

Deceuninck-QuickStep crowded the front of the peloton soon after, though Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) did slip through to mount a fruitless chase, eventually giving up at the 130-km to go mark.

The remaining 70 kilometres of flat roads towards the Peyresourde saw startling little of note occur, barring the breakaway extending their lead to 10 minutes at one point. Jumbo-Visma's Steven Kruijswijk at least gave watchers something to talk about when he abandoned the race, though.

Shortly after that – finally, after three hours of riding – the riders hit the climb, with Arkéa-Samsic setting up an attack from polka-dot jersey contender Nairo Quintana. The Colombian and teammate Élie Gesbert were joined in the move by jersey holder Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) and stage hunter Pierre Latour (Team TotalEnergies), with the quartet swiftly bringing the break's lead under six minutes.

Further back, UAE Team Emirates took to the front of the peloton en masse for yellow jersey Pogačar, reeling in Gesbert, Quintana and Poels four kilometres from the top as Latour battled on alone, four minutes behind the break.

Turgis led the break over the top of the climb, with Latour following 3:30 later, while the peloton – without key Ineos Grenadiers domestiques Tao Geoghegan Hart and Michał Kwiatkowski – was at a further 30 seconds in arrears.

By the time the riders hit the Col de Val Louron-Azet, Latour's time off the front was up, with UAE dragging him back as they rode four minutes behind the break. Up front, the break had split as Perez pushed on alone 35 kilometres from the line and five kilometres from the top.

He remained alone over the top as Godon chased alone, enjoying a 3:50 advantage over the slimmed-down peloton – led by UAE's Davide Formolo and Rui Costa – over the summit. Meanwhile, Poels jumped out at the front to bolster his KOM lead by four points at the summit as Quintana grabbed two.

Perez and Godon came together on the descent, hitting the bottom of the final climb still with a four-minute gap back to the 30-man peloton. They would only stick together for three kilometres of the climb, though, with Perez countering a dig by Godon at the 13.5-kilometre mark to set off alone.

Rafał Majka's spell on the front began shortly after, with a clear upping of the pace bringing the gap down under two minutes and shelling numerous riders from the peloton, including eighth-placed Mas and ninth-placed Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).

Perez passed the 10-km banner just 1:25 up on the peloton, which was rapidly closing in. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) – 10th overall at the start of the day – struck out a kilometre later, but was swiftly brought back with Pogačar accelerating and passing Perez with 8.5 kilometres to go.

The race leader took the main podium contenders Urán, Vingegaard and Carapaz with him, as well as O'Connor and Carapaz's teammate Jonathan Castroviejo.

Up front, it was just Pogačar and Vingegaard doing the riding as Carapaz looked to suffer in the wheels. In between the groups, Gaudu could make little headway, riding at 40 seconds behind as the Urán group remained a minute down heading into the final three kilometres.

Pogačar struck out again at the two-km mark, but couldn't drop his companions, trying once again a few hundred metres later to the same result. At 1.5km out, Carapaz suddenly responded, having looked on the verge of dropping off the back for the previous seven kilometres.

Vingegaard couldn't respond, leaving a man-to-man battle over the final kilometre until the Dane eventually made his way back just in time to see Pogačar's final move for victory. He passed Carapaz for second place, but the day – once again – went to the man in yellow.

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Tour de France stage 17 – Live coverage

Cyclingnews.com 14 July, 2021 - 03:26am

Follow live race text coverage as the race heads to the summit of the Col du Portet

Thanks for joining us today. We will be back for more action in the mountains tomorrow with stage 18 of the Tour de France.

Cavendish has four riders from his team out there with him. He should make it...

Greipel has just come over the line. And the update is that 26 riders are still out there climbing. 

We still have 83 riders out on the course. And one of them is the green jersey. 

Mas has come back well given how early he was dropped. 2'28 or so. Then Lutsenko finishes at 2'54.

Uran at 1'50. Not a good day for EF.

O'Connor fifth at 1'28. Then Kelderman, Bilbao. 

Gaudu comes over the line and takes fourth on the stage but I think we have our Tour de France podium. 

Vingegaard was second, and Carapaz third a few seconds back. 

He's done it. 170m to go.

Vingegaard is closing the gap, he's coming back.

Carapaz looks back, sees Vingegaard and kicks again.

Carapaz gets out of the saddle again but Vingegaard is coming back slowly. 

600m to go and Carapaz just sets the pace. He won't get any help from Pogacar.

Can Vingegaard come back? He has a lot of work to do.

Carapaz keep the hammer down and Pogacar follows. 

They head through a tunnel and it's down to just two riders with 1km to go.

Vingegaard has been dropped.

1.3km to go and Carapaz attacks. 

Gaudu has 15 seconds on the Uran group.

This looks like the most serious attack yet but it's matched once again by Vingegaard and Carapaz. 1.5km to go.

The two chasing groups have closed a bit as Pogacar goes again with 1.7km to go.

The yellow jersey keeps the pressure on though.

2.1km to go and Pogacar goes again. He can't drop them though.

The race has settled down now because there's a stage win on offer at the line. Vingegaard is looking at Pogacar and that might open the window for Carapaz. Does he have anything left in the tank though?

Carapaz looks to be in a world of pain, Vingegaard looks ok but maybe just a bit labored, while the yellow jersey looks like he could do this climb a second time.  Gaudu now at 49 seconds. 

Then Pogacar takes over again. He just looks so fresh, even at this stage.

Vingegaard takes another long turn on the front as the gap to Uran drifts out to over a minute.

4k to go now for our three leaders: Pogacar, Vingegaard, and Carapaz. 

Gaudu is at 37 seconds, Uran, O'Connor, Kelderman at 55 seconds. 

Carapaz looks like he's about to crack but he's been like that for some time and he's still there. 4.5km to go.

Uran is fourth on GC now as Kelderman comes back to the Colombian. 

5km to go and Carapaz is still holding firm, though he's still not taken a turn.

Uran is in big trouble. He could lose 2-3 minutes easily here.

Down the climb and Gaudu is fourth on the road now.

But then Pogacar just hits the front with another sprint. It's a semi-sprint. 

Vingegaard takes a much longer pull for the first time. Much, much longer with 5.4km to go. 

Carapaz is just holding on now. Surely it's only a matter of time...

Every time Pogacar comes through the pace just increases immediately. Uran is at 30 seconds at the moment. 5.9km to go.

Vingegaard comes through again, but still nothing from Carapaz. Pogacar though just looks untouchable at this point.

The leaders though have 27 seconds and it looks like only Pogacar is setting the pace. 6.4km to go. 

Carapaz continues to just hold on as Higuita comes back to help Uran. That's massive. 

It looks like Uran is already 19 seconds down. He's with O'Connor. 

7.2km to go and Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard are trading turns as Uran continues to lose group. Pogacar puts in another little dig as they take a corner. Carapaz is just holding on for dear life.

Carapaz is not able or willing to ride as Uran and O'Connor link up.

Pogacar gets a turn from Vingegaard

7.5km to go and Uran is being distanced. 

Can anyone close that gap? Yes. Jonas Vingegaard, Uran and Carapaz but everyone else has been dropped. Perez caught and dropped.

And Pogacar goes again with 8.km to go.

Jonas Vingegaard, Uran, Carapaz and O'Connor follow but no one else.

His effort looks quite jerky on bike and now he's caught and Pogacar goes with 8.4km to go.

Bilbao only has about 3 seconds but he kicks again and just draws the gap out for a few more lengths. 

37 seconds for Perez as he hits a gradient of 14 per cent. 

Bilbao has just gone off the front with 9.2km to go. He's the first rider to attack from the yellow jersey group.

It's under a minute now for Perez as he really starts to tighten up. Godon has been caught.

Majka continues to set the pace for his leader and the yellow jersey as we dip into the final 10km of the stage. Perez has 1'07.

All of the top four on GC still have a teammate as the gap to Perez drops to 1'22.

Ah the Astana man is back, for now.

Lutsenko is in trouble here too. as Majka takes over. Lutsenko has been dropped with 10.2km to go. 

And it's Ineos who take over at the front of the bunch as Bilbao hangs on with Woods and Teuns at the back. Right now it's Jonathan Castroviejo  who lifts the pace with 10.5km to go.

I think Woods is at the back of this yellow jersey group. 

Up ahead and Perez just has 1'52 on the bunch with 11.2km to go. It's all on you Gaudu. 

Carapaz has one rider left with him as Poels and Martin join up with Mas and Lopez. Can't see Woods.

Mas being dropped is a massive surprise at this stage. Gaudus is there, so he could be moving into the top ten today.

Uran as Higuita but we're down to less than a dozen riders in the yellow jersey group. Mollema and Poels dropped. Martin for Cofidis to and Mas. Mas has been dropped. He's the first real top five contender to be distanced with 11.6km to go.

So Pogacar is down to his last teammate already as Thomas is finally dropped. 

McNulty is done so it's Majka now on the front with 12.2km to go. 

Ineos do still have numbers around Carapaz as Fraile is the next rider out the back. O'Connor and Kelderman look isolated. 

Jonas Vingegaard has Kuss for company but the yellow jersey group is down to about 15-20 riders. 

Porte has been dropped. I think Thomas is still there.

 I think Perez has too much to do but he's giving it everything as the gradient climbs once again. 

13.4km to go and Perez has attacked. And he has a gap and a lead of 3'07 on yellow.

I think Thomas has been dropped too. 13.5km to go. 

3'11 is the gap with Mcnulty setting the pace for Pogacar. 

Van Aert has cracked. He's gone and the world champ, and Quintana.

Alaphilippe is hanging on at the back now too. 

Formolo cracks once more with 14km to go. 

And Godon has attacked. Perez responds right away.

The gap is at 3'42, so it's starting to come down. 3'40 now.

So the race leader has three teammates at the start of this final climb of the Col du Portet.

The peloton are on the climb now and Pogacar has Van Aert on his wheel.

Godon looks good, better than he did on the last climb, as he sets the pace. Valverde has been dropped as Formolo does indeed return and start to set the pace.

Chaves has a front flat, and that's terrible timing.

Right now it's Godon setting the pace with 15.2km to go. The gap is still at 3'58 as we hit 13 per cent sections on the climb.

If Perez, who announced he has re-signed with Cofidis this morning, wins their first Tour stage in 13 years, on Bastille Day, all of France will erupt. 

Perez and Godin start the climb with 16km to go and a lead of 3'55. It's advantage peloton, just.

We're about 1km from the foot of the Col du Portet. It's 16km long and has an average gradient of over 8 percent. This is where Pogacar can extend his lead, and this is where his rivals can also crack him. It should be a great showdown. 

Turgis is about a minute off the two leaders and he might struggle to come back as Bahrain join the chase with UAE on the front of the bunch.

21km to go and Godon and Perez have 3'37 over the peloton.

Godon has done well. He's caught Perez on the descent with 22km to go.

A rider in the bunch, Kuss, comes off the road but just about keeps it together. That was tense, and Pogacar ran wide too through that same corner.

Turgis and Godin still haven't been caught by the bunch and this is a sketchy descent, and there's some patches of gravel on the road. 

Poels attacks. Quintana tried to follow but sat up almost right away. He takes some points but Poels extends his lead in the competition. 

Just two riders left for Pogacar as Formolo cracks. 25km to go. He might come back on the descent. 

Porte just came to the front for a moment but then dropped back. Not sure what was going on there, maybe he was going for bottle? On the descent and Perez has to take risks, and he's doing so. 

Quintana, Poels and Woods will want points on this climb as we see Perez go over the top with 29km to go and the gap at 3'54.

Two Movistar riders are dangling towards the back of the yellow jersey group as Formolo sets the pace. It's Perez versus UAE right now. He has 3'48 with 29km to go.

The UAE train are just picking up riders from the break as they close in on the summit. Up ahead and Perez has 3'46 with just over 1km to climb before the final descent. 

Perez has 3km to go on this penultimate climb and a lead of 3'53 on Pogacar. 31km to go on the stage.

Latour has been caught for a second time as Henao is dropped. 

Fuglsang dropped and another Ineos is about to be distanced to. That's Geoghegan Hart.

Perez has found a bit more time, actually, and the gap has moved to 4'12 as Hirschi pulls over with 32km to go. Dan Martin has just been dropped. 

Latour has been given about 5 seconds. Up ahead though and Perez is doing a good job at holding his lead at just under four minutes.

Cort is about to be dropped from the main group, so Uran is down to two or three teammates. 

Latour has kicked again from the bunch, which is futile, but great to see. 

Uran is quite far back in the group, it must be said. Pogacar though just looks so comfortable. 

Godon is riding his own race but Perez is alone with 5.4km on this climb. He only has 3'56 on the peloton though, which isn't going to be enough given the terrain we still have left in the race.

Maybe 30 riders in the yellow jersey group as Perez attacks with 34.3km to go. Turgis has cracked. 

It's still Hirschi doing all the damage as more and more riders are spat out the back. 

The bunch hit the climb and Pogacar still has four teammates on the front with 34km to go.

Latour is about to be guzzled up by the UAE pipeline. 

The yellow jersey are 4'10 down on the break with Cavendish at just over 10 minutes. 

The break begin to climb the Col de Val Louron-Azet and Perez right away puts in a little dig and a few riders immediately slip back. In fact we're down to just three. Perez, Turgis and Godon. 

The break are now in that valley before we hit the next climb of the Col de Val Louron-Azet. It's 7.4km in length with an average gradient of over 8 per cent, and it's the perfect launchpad for an attack. However, given the pace UAE set on that last climb, it's hard to see anyone wanting to break away, or even having the legs to do so. 38km to go and right now, this is looking like a day for Pogacar. It almost feels inevitable. 

There are about 45 riders in the yellow jersey group as they hit the peak of the Col de Peyresourde.

Latour crests the climb and is about to start the descent before a short section in the valley and then the first cat climb of the Col de Val Louron-Azet.

Ion Izagirre Insausti has just been kicked out the back of the bunch as UAE continue to set a relentless pace.

The break head over the climb with all six riders in touch, while Latour is at 3'30 and the bunch are at 4'30.

It's not all over for last year's Giro winner, he's slowly coming back as Turgis takes the maximum mountain points on offer.

Geoghegan Hart has just been dropped, which is a big surprise because Carapaz only has a couple of teammates with him now. Pogacar has more support, which is scenario no one expected on the climbs.

Jonas Vingegaard still has Van Aert and Kuss by his side. 

Pogacar has five riders left but two of them look like they're on their knees at this point on the climb. 1.6km to go for the break as Latour pulls out 30 seconds on the yellow jersey group.

Uran though has lost a couple more teammates.

Hirschi now setting the pace for Pogacar and they're about to catch Quintana and Poels. Catch made and 51km to go.

UAE are just tapping away and so far, so good for the yellow jersey and his teammates. The break are 2.3km from the summit of the ascent and now Latour has attacked. Nothing from Quintana or Poels.

Danny van Poppel is just about hanging on with the rest of the break, which has lost about three minutes since the climb started. Quintana meanwhile only has about 20 seconds on the bunch. 

Powless has been dropped by the bunch. 

Further down the climb and Cavendish is two minutes down on the peloton and 8 minutes down on the stage leaders. He should be fine in terms of the time cut.

The six leaders have a lead of 5'39 with 59km to go on the stage, and 4.3km to go on the climb. 

Quintana needs to make a move now though if he has the power in his legs because Elie Gesbert isn't really doing enough, and Pogacar and company can see the move up the road.

Almost 40 seconds now as Elie Gesbert continues to lead Quintana, Poels and Latour. They are still 6 minutes down on the break, so they won't catch them on this climb, that's for sure.

Latour has made it to the Quintana group and they have about 30 seconds on the yellow jersey.

Cavendish dropped and Kwiatkowski, which is a major surprise with 56km to go.

It's Elie Gesbert who has taken Quintana and Poels with him as behind them UAE set the pace for the peloton.

Rolland has just been dropped from the back of the bunch too as Quintana goes with a teammate and Poels follows. 57km to go.

At the back and Bol has been dropped, along with a number of other riders. Arkea have just lifted the pace and it's forced Poels to move up. Here we go.

Quintana has been brought towards the front of the bunch and it might be that Arkea are setting up the Colombian for a long range attack.

Arkea and ISN are still driving the bunch but why? Because the gap isn't coming down and they're about lose half their numbers now anyway as they start the climb.

The leaders are about 2km into the climb and they continue to work well together but the sprinters here will start to struggle soon enough.

And in the end Matthews beats Cavendish, and pulls back a single point in the race for the green jersey. Colbrelli was just behind that pair as up ahead the six leaders hold a 8'32 gap on the bunch.

Cavendish has been brought up to third wheel before the sprint, with Philipsen also present.

The break reach the foot of the Peyresourde and start the 13.2km ascent. With a 8'30 lead they should easily crest the top of the climb before the peloton.

van Poppel takes 20 points there ahead of Godon and we're closing in on the Peyresourde. Before that Cavendish, Matthews and Colbrelli will contest the remaining intermediate points.

Lukas Pöstlberger is leading us towards the sprint point, we're about 1km from there right now. 

The work from Arkea and ISN hasn't done anything to bring the gap down, in fact it's stretched out to 8'21 with 67km to go, and also as soon as we're through the intermediate sprint the road starts to rise.

Today's summit finish on the mighty Col du Portet should finally provide a degree of separation in the tight battle for the podium, though it remains to be seen if anyone can make even the slightest dent in Pogačar’s commanding 5:18 overall lead.

To read our special stage preview by Barry Ryan on the ground in France, click the link below.

Despite the chase from the peloton, the break is still slowly gaining time.

It's up to 8:30 now as Connor Swift does some big turns on the front for Quintana.

It will be up to the Colombian to attack when the race hits the Col de Peyresourde. 

10km to go to the intermediate sprint in Bagnères-de-Luchon.

The spa town at the foot of the Pyrenees has hosted the Tour de France 59 times. The last stage finish was in 2018 when Julian Alaphilippe was the winner.

It's interesting to see the Israel Start-up Nation team chasing the break at the head of the peloton. They are no doubt thinking of Michael Wood's mountain competition hopes. 

Woods is second in the competition with 66 points. Leader Wout Poels (Bahrain) has 74 points. So just one major col can change everything. 

Woods, Poels, Quintana and maybe even van Aert will fight for every mountain point, perhaps even for the final cat 4 climb on the final stage to Paris on Sunday.

The intermediate sprint is deep into the stage today (after 113Km) but comes before all three major mountains.

We are expecting  to see a battle between for the sprinters for the lesser points behind the six-rider break.  

With 88km to race, the six attackers are still working together to push out their lead.

They know they will need a significant lead to stay away and fight for the stage victory. 

However several teams are leading the chase at 8:00. Arkea-Samsic are riding to help Nairo Quintana target the KOM jersey.  

The intermediate sprint comes with 65km to go.

The fast descent away from the Peyresourde drops into Loudenvielle, where the riders will find themselves on the flat very briefly as they circle the lake to reach the foot of the Col d’Azet. Although not much more than half the length of the Peyresourde, its average of 8.3% makes it more challenging, especially on the steeper sections on its lower slopes. Once again, the descent is fast, Saint-Lary-Soulan arriving very quickly.

100km to go and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Dorian Godon (AG2R-Citroën), Anthony Pérez (Cofidis), Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and Maxime Chevalier (B&B-KTM) have 7'54 over the peloton.

That help from ISN has seen the gap to the break drop to 7'55 with 107km to go.

ISN are still contributing with the chase as they look to help Woods in that KOM race. He's eight points down on Wout Poels but there are 60 points on offer in that competition.

The intermediate sprint comes up later on at Bagnères-de-Luchon. We had a stage start there back in 2010 and 2018. Froome won there in 2016. Michael Rogers also won a stage there too in 2014. I think Voeckler won there too, maybe?

Vegard Stake Laengen remains on the front of the peloton, where he has been for just over an hour now. He's holding the gap at 8'25 with 114km to go.

Pogacar attacked on the Peyresourde last year, didn't he? We looked at his power from that attack and wrote about it here.

So far, this has been another easy ride for Pogacar but Ineos have been quiet since the opening few moves and surely they'll have a plan for the second half of the race.

The gap has gone out to 8 minutes as Bernard is wolfed up by the bunch. ISN have suddenly joined the chase and started setting the pace as they try and presumably look to set up Woods or Martin for later. 

That could have been a problem... a bidon just bounces out of a cage at the front of the bunch but it skittles towards the curb without causing any issues. 123km to go and the gap to the six leaders out front is 7'28.

The first climb of the day is the Peyresourde, which was used in 1999 when Escartin took a famous win for Kelme. Rising at an average of 7% for a 13.1km, it’s the easiest of the three climbs crammed into the final third of the stage.

These six leaders, they need well over ten minutes before the three climbs if they want to think about the stage win today but even then, the winner is likely to come from the GC riders in the race. 

Julien Bernard is rolling along at 9kph right now as he waits for the bunch. Hey at least he gave it a go, it's just that his timing was a bit off. 

The gap to Julien Bernard has gone out two minutes, so it's effectively game over for his chances of getting into the break.

Kim Andersen pulls up alongside Julien Bernard and I think he's told him to knock it off.

Julien Bernard is losing ground and the gap is out 1'23. If there was a climbing come up right away I'd suggest he could close the gap but the nature of the terrain just lends itself to the six riders up front.

The break has 6'02 on the peloton.

Steven Kruijswijk has quit the Tour de France. He was off the back early today and has climbed off. That leaves Jumbo Visma with just four riders in the race.

Meanwhile Julien Bernard continues to hunt down the break and has closed the gap to 1'09. This is still a massive ask as they aren't going to give him an easy ride. Back in the bunch and Wilco Kelderman is moving up. 

A lot of AG2R riders are near the front and they are clearly expecting things to kick off in the cross-winds coming up later on. That's the only reason most of the team are just two wheels back from the front at the moment. It has to be.

Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Dorian Godon (AG2R-Citroën), Anthony Pérez (Cofidis), Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and Maxime Chevalier (B&B-KTM) are the leaders on the road with 145km to go as the rain starts to fall a bit more.

UAE have put one rider on the front with 145km to go and the gap at 4'01 to the six leaders.

Julien Bernard is up against it at the moment as he has 1'36 to make up on the break and I'm not sure they'll want him there because he's probably the best climber out of all the riders on the attack so far today. Him or Anthony Perez. 

We're about to see the front two groups merge so we'll have a six, a one and then a peloton.

A few more drops of rain start to fall on the race and the pace has dramatically dropped in the bunch as the gap goes out to almost four minutes. 

Nah, it's Julien Bernard. Don't worry.

Cavendish and four of his QuickStep chums are on the front now, so it looks like game over if you wanted to be in the break but haven't made a move yet. Race radio crackles through and says there are three groups ahead of the bunch though. Let's get a bit lower in the CN blimp and check this out.

Lukas Pöstlberger, Anthony Perez, Danny van Poppel and Dorian Godon are the leaders, and Anthony Turgis and Maxime Chevalier  are chasing. The bunch are at 1'18 with 155km to go.

Movistar have three riders on the front of the peloton but it looks like they're just helping to shut things down. The four leaders have 54 seconds with 155km to go but there are two chasers behind them, and then the bunch.

Pöstlberger is one of the four riders off the front but the bunch haven't sat up yet, so this move is far from established. Cavendish is still there at the front and watching moves. He's looking right, he's looking left as we see Alaphilippe make an appearance at the front. Bonjour Mr world champion.

There's a bit of a holding pattern at the front but three or four riders do have a small gap with 160km to go. 

EF and Intermarche are the next teams to try their luck as Wout van Aert takes off his jacket, having dropped back to the team car.

Just before he's caught Rolland kicks again. They're closing though, and he's caught with 163km to go. Thanks a lot, cycling. 

Pierre Rolland leads by 16 seconds with the bunch closing in.

Three more riders pop off the front with Ag2R and Alpecin among those involved. They're looking back though, which is never a good sign.

Rolland has 25 seconds but there's more action from the bunch as Arkea, Bahrain and Movistar try and get things going.

If you want to read about Rolland's greatest ever day on a bike, and one of the most exciting days of the Tour we've ever seen, then check this race report out.

Then read this piece from Al Fotheringham who wrote about it again just before the Tour. 

They're just letting Lorenzo Rota hang out there as we see Cavendish on the front of the bunch. Is he going to mark Matthews and Colbrelli with the intermediate sprint coming up before the climbing starts?

The chase group is just Lorenzo Rota and he's about to be caught. Ineos are trying again though. 

It looks like AG2R are chasing but Rolland's teammates are marking the moves nicely. We do have a small chase group at 22 seconds behind Rolland. 172km to go.

30 seconds for Rolland but he'll want some help, that's for sure. 

Cross-headwind right now which won't do Rolland any favours but he's ploughing and still has a twenty second lead with 173km to go.

Rolland has 20 seconds, and there's a short lived counter attack but that's been brought back. Trek try again though.

Be still my beating heart - Rolland has attacked again and he's alone, leading the Tour de France.

Valentin Madouas, who looks a bit like Gaudu on the bike. He's caught though and we're all back together at the front of the race.

Ineos marking moves nice and early, Trek too before Groupama ping a rider off the front. 

Here's the big guy. He's standing up, he's on the radio, flag in hand. Not sure why I'm making such a big deal of this but we are off and racing on stage 17 of the Tour de France. And Rolland attacks. 

Rolland and a teammate near the front... the stars are starting to align. 

Prudhomme is leaving it late, we've just 200m to go before the start. There's a fair bit of wind around this morning too, it's really not pleasant out there.

Jonas Vingegaard gobbles down a gel just before Prudhomme appears from the sunroof of his Skoda and Rolland is right at the front by the way. Just saying. 

Pierre Rolland was spotted at the start this morning and for me he's a great outsider for the stage win today. He'd have to be on his best day in almost a decade but it's Bastille Day, he's a bit of a French icon, and who doesn't like an underdog?

Quintana has dropped back to the team car to hand over his rain jacket, which is a pretty decent indication that he'll be on the move today as he tries to snaffle up some KOM points.

Right now though the world champion is still at the back and chatting with Uran, who sits second in the GC.

It's  Bastille Day. Alaphilippe will surely be in the thick of the action when the attacks start.

The world champ is at the back and taking it easy as he talks to the TV cameras. I would have thought he'd try and be in a move today. We'll see, there's still a long way to go in the neutralized zone.

And it's Cavendish who wheels away first. The neutralized zone is about 10km long but we'll get through that soon enough before the Tour's grand fromage appears from his sunroof and gives us the signal that the stage has started.

Fire up the CN blimp, we are rolling on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

Easily the biggest and most impressive story in the last 24 hours...

Lachlan Morton reaches Paris to complete Alt Tour de France having raised £360,000https://t.co/606iMQrZIK #TdF2021 pic.twitter.com/apBuxUBvX5July 14, 2021

It's not raining that hard, Cavendish isn't wearing a rain jacket as we get closer and closer to the start of today's stage.

Bora are up next. They've won two stages since Sagan went home and they also have Kelderman up there in GC. Big day for the Dutchman who really has looked impressive in the race, and especially so in the mountains. He doesn't have an acceleration but again IMO he's got the best riding style out of all the riders in the top ten. Just watch him, he's not quite Mozart on pedals (Berzin) but he's not far off.

Yellow and green have found some shelter from the showers and are having a little natter. It doesn't last, as Pogacar wheels away, rides onto the stage and lifts both arms as he waves to the crowd. 'Hello Muret'. The rest of his team finally join him - they can't even keep up at this point - but in all seriousness they've a massive job on their hands today and a rider like Formolo will have to ride out of his skin on those three ascents. Will Ineos do the work for them, like they did a few days ago? We. Shall. See.

It's raining just as Pogacar arrives to sign on.

Here comes the green jersey and his crew. Great news that they have a new sponsor for next year, mainly because I can just about spell the brand's name, Vinyl. Cavendish just has to survive the time cut today, and that's his only real focus. It'll be tough but he's climbing well enough in this year's race. 

Jonas Vingegaard and his teammates are up next. Big day for the young Dane, who has so far been the only rider in the entire race to drop Pogacar. He's looked incredible so far and he could be the key to unlocking the race today with our summit finish. You'd think that if he wants to cause some real carnage he has to go early but he won't. They never do. Let's just hope we'll see some fireworks on that final climb to the finish.

EF are on the podium and then Bahrain Victorious follow them up there. 22 minutes until the stage start.

Yeah Rominger crashed out with a collarbone break on the road to Plumelec, pretty early on in the race. He came back later in the season and had a decent Vuelta. He wasn't on the level to win but he was pretty instrumental in helping compatriot Alex Zulle claiming his second win in the race. Rominger, who worked with Ferrari moved into rider management and I tried to get him on the CN podcast a few years ago when I re-told the 1996 race but he declined. Shame, he would have had a lot to say. 

30 minutes until the start of stage 17 of the Tour de France. 

A rider on that roster once told me a great story about how their bikes were so bad at the time and that the riders used to chuck them off hotel roofs, and stamp on them, just to get new frames. I wrote that once, and someone more senior had me pull the copy. Anyways. 

Some good news for Cofidis this morning, Anthony Pérez has signed a contract extension. They're one of the longest serving teams in the sport, having started in 1997 - same time as FDJ. Their first roster included Rominger (in his final year, and crashed out of the Tour), D Millar, Bobby Julich, Frankie Andreu, Lance Armstrong - until they treated him awfully, 1998 KOM winner Rinero, and Saugrain, who won a stage in the 1996 edition of the race.

Cofidis have all eight riders still in the race but other than Martin they've really not done much in this year's Tour. Can they end their stage win drought today? It would be an incredible result if they could but so much is stacked against them. I can see this being a day for the break though as it's such a long way from the start to the foot of the first climb.

Gaudu is pottering around at the start. He could break into the top ten today but he really wants a stage win. It's going to tough though, as he was in the break yesterday and couldn't drop Sonny Colbrelli on the climbs. I can't see him matching better climbers if he goes in the break again today but who knows, maybe he's improving with each passing day. 

Trek are signing on now. Mollema - the most underrated rider in the bunch and Trek's best signing since Cancellara retired (IMO) is present and accounted for. He's been better for them than Contador, Nibali and Porte combined. They'll be active in the break again today and expect Julien Bernard  - another underrated rider - to be on the move.

With just under 50 minutes until the start, there's plenty of time to read our full stage preview for today.

Grey skies and overcast this morning, if you were wondering. 

ISN are up next to sign on. Now they've got two contenders for today, Woods, and Dan Martin. Both pure climbers are still hunting a win in the race and Woods is also in contention for the KOM title this year. That jersey is between Woods, Poels (the current leader), Quintana and Wout van Aert. It should be an interesting battle for the break of the day.

Quintana won the last time the race had this finish back in 2018. He's not on that level this year, and he's an outsider for the KOM prize but you can never rule him out but when 80kg riders are dropping you in the mountains then you know you might struggle. Here he is in happier times.

Alpecin Fenix wave to the crowd, and they're next. Philipsen waves to the crowd but it's all about survival for him and his teammates today with two more sprints between here and Paris.

The five riders from DSM are on the podium for the sign on. They've had a shocker in terms of return on effort, and when compared to their three stage wins last year. They've been in several breaks, but it just hasn't happened for them in the race. So far. 

Pogacar has the massive lead over Uran in second place but the rest of the top ten have relatively small gaps between them with several riders in touch with the podium places. Chris Froome thinks that the race is probably done and dusted if Pogacar can stay on his bike, and he's probably right but you never know... the UAE leader could have a bad day. It wouldn't be a terrible scenario, to have an actual competition.

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 17 of the Tour de France. Today is arguably the hardest day of the Tour de France with three huge climbs crammed inside the final 70km of action, and a summit finish on the Col du Portet. This is a stage that could decide the race, and the podium places, so stay tuned for our live text coverage. The stage officially starts in about 80 minutes.

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Tour de France: Mark Cavendish's battle for the green jersey is heating up | VeloNews.com

VeloNews 13 July, 2021 - 01:29pm

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Can anyone beat Mark Cavendish in the Tour de France’s green jersey competition?

Cavendish hasn’t looked back since he snapped the green jersey from his teammate Julian Alaphilippe on stage 4 and he has just five more stages before he can call it his own.

The Manxman looks like he’s within touching distance of his second maillot vert 10 years after winning his first but waiting in the wings and ready to capitalize on any weakness from the Cavendish is Michael Matthews.

Also read: Mark Cavendish looking beyond ’35’ and toward 2022 season

Despite not yet winning a stage, the Australian has been lurking in the background of the points competition right from the start of the race. Throughout the race so far, Matthews has refused to give up on the hope that he could be the one in green on the Paris.

With Cavendish dominating in the bunch sprints, it might seem like a fruitless exercise but if the 2021 Tour de France has shown us anything then it is to expect the unexpected.

At this time, Cavendish’s primary rival is not Matthews, but the brutal Tour de France time cut.

Nine riders have felt the cool blade of the Tour de France axe so far in what some have dubbed the hardest edition in years. There are still two major Pyrenean stages to come for the peloton before the riders can really consider making it to Paris.

Thus far, Deceuninck-Quick-Step has nurtured Cavendish to the line on the tough mountain stages – sometimes with just minutes to spare – but it takes just one bad day to end a rider’s race. Just ask Luke Rowe.

Also read: Michael Mørkøv: The man making Tour de France history with Mark Cavendish

“It’s relentless [in the gruppetto]. I’m lucky I have the guys with me,” Cavendish said on the rest day. “It’s become more scientific, and you can plan how much power you can use, and you can ride within yourself. That doesn’t mean you’re not on it all day. If we can get through the next three days, hopefully, we should be OK.”

If Cavendish does falter, Matthews will be there to step into green as the second-best-placed rider. He can’t rely on that and if he wants to give himself the best possible opportunity of climbing into the lead then he’ll have to take it to Cavendish on the harder days.

While Cavendish has not taken a single point in the green jersey competition since his win in Carcassonne last Friday, Matthews has got 64 under his belt – despite the best efforts of Sonny Colbrelli, who is in third place in the points classification and also slowly closing in on Cavendish.

With 84 points separating Colbrelli and Cavendish, the Italian has a much more challenging road ahead.

Matthews’ closing of the gap to the top of the standings has been a case of chipping away at the advantage. He has sought any opportunity that presented itself, culminating in a day in the breakaway during Tuesday’s stage 16.

Also read: Tour de France daily digest: Mark Cavendish or Eddy Merckx — who ya got?

The BikeExchange rider missed out on the full haul of points, which would have seen him reduce the gap to 22 points, but it keeps him in the hunt.

“I think that today was a good chance for a stage win for a rider like me. Our plan was to go in the breakaway, we achieved that, our plan was to get some points at the intermediate, we achieved that, and I just came up a bit short with the stage win,” Matthews said after the finish of stage 16.

“I’m closer, but not close enough. He’s still got two sprint jerseys in this Tour de France and if he wins those then that’s another 100 points, so all this work I’ve been doing for the last few days could be all for nothing but in the end, I’m a fighter and I’ll fight all the way to Paris.”

Jumping into the early breakaways to mop up the intermediate sprint could bring Matthews up to 40 points for his tally, enough to overcome the 37-point deficit he has. However, the challenge will be the final two sprint stages.

While he has contested some of the intermediate sprints on flat days, Cavendish does have the luxury of not needing to worry too much about striking out on the hilly stages as Matthews must do.

Over the years, the Tour de France organizer ASO has fiddled with the format of the points competition to make it more of a pure sprinter’s jersey. Peter Sagan upset that somewhat with his ability to consistently finish in the top places and an all-out bunch sprint and then have a go in the hills.

However, since 2019 the way the points have been dished out makes a sprint win even more precious. During Sagan’s lengthy reign in green, there were just 10 points between first and second on a flat day. Now, there is a 20-point gap between the first and second rider to cross the line in a bunch gallop – with 50 going to the winner and 30 to the runner-up.

That makes Matthews’ life a little more complicated over the coming days as Cavendish has not yet been beaten in any sprint that he has contested. If Cavendish can continue his 100 percent record – and make it through the mountains – then he has got the win in the bag.

“The green [jersey] is something through my whole career that the stages would take precedent and the green would come from that, and it’s the same now,” Cavendish said Monday. “It just came as a bonus. If we continue winning the sprints, we will arrive in Paris with green.”

But, once again, this is the Tour de France, and anything can happen.

It might not work out, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, and Matthews won’t get anything if he doesn’t try.

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