Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on the feared final climb Méribel Col de la Loze in the 17th stage of the Tour de France ended up on his closest attacker Tadej Pogacar. Miguel Angel Lopez took the stage victory on the Alpencol – also the highest point of this edition of the Tour de France.
Roglic came alone at the head of the Jumbo train 4 km before the end of the improbably difficult climb. Tom Dumoulin also had to get off. The Slovenian crawled into the wheel of Pogacar. Meanwhile, number 3 of the Rigoberto Uran classification also had to get off. And more striking: Mikel Landa had to fit as well. His team Bahrain dragged ahead of him all day long, but when he had to, he sank through the ice. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) gave it a snok and only Roglic, Pogacar and Jumbo-supervisor Sepp Kuss could follow. Even crazier: Kuss drove away from his leader Roglic and only Lopez could follow. In the meantime, fugitive Richard Carapaz had been overtaken.
Lopez drove away from Kuss again, on his way to the stage win. Roglic saw it and demarried away from Pogacar. The leaders in this Tour really went with their butts bare this queen‘s ride. But Lopez struggled for a great victory in the Tour, while Roglic won a seconds game from Pogacar. Roglic took 17 seconds (15 + 2 bonification) on Pogacar and is now 57 seconds ahead of his compatriot.
Of course, the ‘Hell of the Alps‘ could not do without a group of fugitives. And so it happened: just like Tuesday, Julian Alaphilippe, Richard Carapaz and stage winner Lennard Kämna were present. They were joined by Dan Martin and Gorka Izaguirre. Soon they got almost 6 minutes from the peloton, led by the yellow-black brigade of Jumbo-Visma, on their way to the mythical Col de la Madeleine.
On this historic mountain, Bahrain-McLaren suddenly decided to lead the peloton. Nice to see: Wout Poels (Bahrain) dragging at the head of a platoon. The Dutchman fell in the first stage of the Tour, rode every day in pain because a rib broke and bruised his lung (!), but on character he persevered. His leader Mikel Landa wanted to shake things up. The Spaniard was seventh in the general classification, just 39 seconds behind number three Rigoberto Uran. The general classification men did not really show themselves here, partly due to the pace of Bahrain and Jumbo-Visma. But because of this murderous pace the peloton was halved.
In the meantime Kämna was dropped in the leading group. Due to the tough climb of the Madeleine, the lead of the four other breakaway riders in relation to the peloton began to shrink again, even to under two minutes. In the descent of the Madeleine Martin had to let go of the other three breakaway riders due to his moderate descent qualities. Three men in the lead: Alaphilippe, Carapaz and Izaguirre. The three of them descended at the risk of their own lives, a fine trick of college descent. They ended up on the peloton again, partly because Landa did not descend so well.
The final climb Col de la Loze, the roof in this Tour de France, was too powerful for Alaphilippe. He was soon overtaken. The peloton – at least what was left of it – quickly got closer to escapees Carapaz and Izaguirre. The unlikely pace of Bahrain gave almost every rider a headache. Only fifteen riders were able to keep up, with all the big leaders still on board. Only Nairo Quintana was minutes behind. Meanwhile, loyal warrior Carapaz (Ineos) remained alone. He sold 7.5 kilometres before the measurement his skin expensive. The Ecuadorian miraculously maintained his lead. In fact, he even extended it 5 km before the finish, to 45 seconds. Until the final kilometres of the col started and he still had to go for it.
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Macron on a visit
By the way, the Tour was visited on Wednesday by French President Emmanuel Macron. The organisation confirmed during the stage that Macron had joined the followers of the peloton that was on its way to the highest col in this Tour.
The first time Macron visited the Tour de France was in Serre-Chevalier in 2017, shortly after his election. There he saw, yes, Primoz Roglic win the stage. Last year Macron presented himself at the Tourmalet, where he saw his compatriot Thibaut Pinot win.
The arrival of Macron was kept quiet for a long time. The French President was also not on the official guest list on Wednesday morning.
Remarkable task Nieve
Mikel Nieve left the Tour de France on Wednesday. Nieve, who rides for Mitchelton-Scott, played no part in the general classification. On Tuesday he was still part of a leading group.
His task is remarkable. At his eighteen previous performances in big rounds, the now 36-year-old Spaniard never gave up. He even finished all times in the top 25. He rode the Tour de France five times. His highest ranking was eighth in the Tour of Spain in 2015. In that Tour he won a stage once, in the Giro d’Italia he did so three times.