By Thomas Dodd
- Chris Froome stretches lead after tough day in Alps
- Sky rider now holds 2m47 advantage with four stages left
- Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin wins summit finish stage for team Katusha
FINHAUT-EMOSSON, SWITZERLAND- Briton Chris Froome extended his overall lead of the Tour de France as Russian Ilnur Zakarin won Stage 17 in Switzerland.
The defending champion put time into rivals Bauke Mollema, Nairo Quintana and Adam Yates on the final climb as the race finished in the Alps for the first time in 2016.
All bar one of the top 10 in the general classification were together on the ascent to the Finhaut Emosson- the only absentee being BMCs Tejay Van Garderen, who had been dropped long before the seemingly never-ending slog up to nearly 2,000 metres above sea level.
When the attacks finally came, it was van Garderen’s New Zealand teammate Richie Porte who finally split the small gaggle of riders, and despite first being hauled back in by Sky domestiques Wouter Poels and Mikel Nieve, the second burst of acceleration was too strong for everyone except the man in the yellow jersey.
Froome and Porte came in together and would have put more time into the chasers had it not been for a blistering finish from Brit Yates, who belied his inexperience in the upper echelons of a Grand Tour leaderboard with a lightening fast final 500m, bringing the gap down to a mere eight seconds in the final reckoning.
It was still all too much for the likes of Quintana and Mollema, both of whom conceded big chunks of time to Froome as the pursuers now look to be playing for second place – a position currently held by the Dutchman – though only 36 seconds now stand between Yates and British one-two.
Some eight minutes ahead of all this on the road, Zakarin was zipping up the journey and barely crawling over the line to give Katusha its first win of the Tour- on without doubt the hardest day.
Stage 15 winner Jarlinson Pantano was second for Colombia on his country’s Independence Day and the remainder of the route’s break made up the top 10 before the main contenders came into play.
Coming into view however is Paris, and if we are to be denied the image of Froome rolling onto the Champs Elysees in yellow those following must act quickly, as the defending champion now has just three meaningful stages left to defend a two minute 47 second advantage.
The first of those is tomorrow, a unique 17km time-trial that climbs from the moment it leaves the starting blocks in Sallanches right up until the finish line in Megeve as the race heads back into France.
Just like today, Thursday’s stage will be run without Mark Cavendish, who pulled out of the Tour during yesterday’s rest day to focus on the Olympic Games in Rio next month.
The Manxman had already won four times in this year’s race, but will not now get a chance to add to his tally of 30 career victories until 2017.
Stage 17 Result (Bern to Finhaut Emosson 184.5km)
1. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) Katusha 4h36minutes33seconds
2. Jarlinson Pantano (COL) IAM Cycling +55seconds
3. Rafal Majka (POL) Tinkoff +1m26
4. Kristijan Durasek (CRO) Lampre-Merida +1m32
5. Brice Feillu (FRA) Fortuneo Vital Concept +2m33
6. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Direct Energie +2m46
7. Dominico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R +2m50
8. Stef Clement (HOL) IAM Cycling +2m57
9. Steve Morabito (SUI) FDJ +4m38
10. Richie Porte (NZ) BMC Racing +7m59
11. Chris Froome, Sky +7m59seconds
12. Adam Yates, Orica +8m07
37. Geraint Thomas, Sky +15m27
126. Luke Rowe, Sky +39m51
164. Ian Stannard, Sky +39m51
166. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +39m51
178. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo +41m16
Overall Standings (After Stage 17):
1. Chris Froome (GBR) Sky 77h25m1seconds
2. Bauke Mollema (HOL) Trek-Segafredo +2m27
3. Adam Yates (GBR) Orica +2m53
4. Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +3m27
5. Romain Bardet (FRA) AG2R +4m15
6. Richie Porte (NZ) BMC Racing +4m27
7. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar +5m19
8. Dan Martin (IRE) Etixx-QuickStep +5m50
9. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana +5m35
10. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida +6m07
15. Geraint Thomas, Sky +20m15
141. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +3h11m22
165. Luke Rowe, Sky +3h28m10
169. Ian Stannard, Sky +3h31m04
174. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo +3h38m42
(Abandoned after Stage 16): Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
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