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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, September 17, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. - George Orwell

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Tour de France stage 17 team reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez's Team Astana:

Miguel Angel Lopez took a great solo victory today atop brutal Col de la Loze in Méribel at the finish of the 17th stage of the Tour de France. The leader of Astana Pro Team attacked alone with 2.4 km to the top, dropping all his rivals and gaining important seconds in the general classification of the French Grand tour.

Miguel Angel Lopez

Lopez wins stage seventeen. Photo: Pauline Ballet

In the end of the day Lopez won 15 seconds on the yellow jersey Primoz Roglic and 30 seconds on the white jersey Tadej Pogacar. Thus, in the overall standings of the Tour de France Miguel Angel Lopez moved up to the third place, 1 minute 26 seconds behind Roglic and 29 seconds behind Pogacar.

- I had this stage in my mind, I was focused on it and tried to come to this day in a right form. I knew that this kind of climbs over 2000 meters above sea level would suit me really well. Big and long climbs like Col de la Loze really suit me because it is similar to the climbs I have at home in Colombia. I feel good on the altitude and today I wanted to do something. Together with the team we did a good plan before the stage and we tried to follow it from start to finish. I had a great support of my team during the whole day and also in the final Omar Fraile did an excellent job for me. He was phenomenal today! Coming into the last climb I felt quite well, and my legs worked perfectly. Indeed, it was a super hard climb, but I managed to stay in front in the leading group until the decisive kilometers. I knew this climb very well, because we did a reconnaissance with the team earlier in August, so I knew what to expect and where to try to attack. It was super hard in the final and I had the longest two kilometers of my life, but I continued pushing hard until the finish line. I saw some Colombian fans along the road, they were cheering for me and it also gave me some additional motivation to keep on pushing hard. I am super happy with my win, I was dreaming about it and now I’ve got it. It is so beautiful! – said Miguel Angel Lopez.

- Well, now I am third in the general classification and of course, I would like to continue fighting for the overall until the finish in Paris. We still have three difficult stages ahead of us, every day could be decisive, and we have to keep our concentration on maximum. I will continue going through this race day by day until Paris, - added Miguel Angel Lopez.

- It was our stage and we were waiting for this day all two weeks. We knew that these climbs like today would suit Miguel Angel really well and we were ready to support him today. The team was very strong, and the guys did an amazing job for our leader, firstly on the first half of the stage until the climb and later on the last two climbs. Omar Fraile impressed us a lot, but also Gorka Izagirre spent a great day in the breakaway, protecting team’s interests and providing some help to Miguel Angel just before the decisive part of Col de la Loze. All the team is happy with this beautiful victory and it is also nice to take this win on the birthday of our general manager Alexandr Vinokurov. Great day. But we still have to be focused for 100% because the new hard days are coming. Everything is still open in this Tour de France and we have to keep on fighting day by day to reach our goals, - said Dmitriy Fofonov, sports manager of Astana Pro Team.

Stage 17 of the Tour de France started in Grenoble and after 170 km of racing finished on the top of Col de la Loze in Méribel. The riders passed two hardest climbs: Col de la Madeleine (15.8 km, 8.1%) and the final ascent Col de la Loze (18.6 km, 7.7%).

After some attacks a group of 5 riders went away in a breakaway together with Astana’s Gorka Izagirre. Three riders, Izagirre, Julian Alaphilippe and Richard Carapaz were able to stay in front until the decisive part of the final climb, when the yellow jersey group caught them back.

With 3.5 km to go Miguel Angel Lopez launched his first attack, followed by Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss and Tadej Pogacar. After his new attack with 2.4 km to the top the Astana Pro Team rider opened a gap, and no one could close it.

Another hard mountain stage will be held tomorrow: the peloton will do 175 km from Méribel to La-Roche-sur-Foron with 6 categorized climbs on the distance.

GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Primoz Roglic and Team Jumbo-Visma have done very well regarding the general classification in the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma finished second behind Miguel Angel Lopez on the steep Col de la Loze and gained some valuable time on Tadej Pogacar. Roglic now has a 57 seconds lead over his compatriot, seventeen more than before the stage.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic being well-protected by his Jumbo-Visma teammates. Sirotti photo

In the queen stage the pace was, like almost every day, very high from the start. After Carapaz, the last rider of the original breakaway, was caught, Sepp Kuss increased the pace. Only Roglic, Lopez and Pogacar were able to follow. In the last three kilometres it was a man-to-man fight. Roglic and Kuss put the pressure on Pogacar, after which he had to let Roglic go. On the line, Roglic had a 15-second lead over his younger compatriot. In addition, he grabbed two bonus seconds. Kuss crossed the line in fourth place, Tom Dumoulin in tenth place.

“It was a very good day for us”, Roglic said. “I am very happy with what we have shown today and also with the time gained. Of course I would have liked to win the stage, but Lopez was a bit too strong. It was a very tough stage with a very steep final climb. When I see an opportunity, I attack, and so I did. Most importantly, apart from Lopez, I have gained time on my competitors. However, the Tour is not over yet and there are still three tough days to come. We have to stay focused and be ready for the attacks that we expect to come. The team was very strong. I cannot thank my teammates enough. Sepp in particular was impressive today. ”

Kuss rode a very strong stage in support of Roglic. “We reckoned this stage several times. But in a race it is different. I felt really good. The plan was that I would attack and force the competition to chase. Lopez and I had a little gap, but he was going so fast that I couldn’t follow him. I also didn’t want to blow myself up. I waited for Primoz and luckily he was good enough to gain time on Tadej. On a col like the Loze, with the many tempo changes, it is difficult to close a gap once it is there. This was a great day for us.”

Dumoulin concurred with his two teammates. “This is an excellent result. We took time on Pogacar. We did not expect that, actually. We had the stage under control. Because of Bahrain’s work we didn’t have to chase. For us it was a great situation with that breakaway, because then the time bonuses were gone. We were represented well with six riders until the final climb. That was good. The final climb is a fair one and then you can see that Primoz is one of the best riders in this Tour.”

Richard Carapaz's Team INEOS Grenadiers posted this:

Richard Carapaz put in a battling performance in the breakaway for a second successive day at the Tour de France.

The Ecuadorian impressed by backing up his second-place performance on Tuesday with another day up the road in the mountains. Despite distancing his rivals on the final climb to Meribel, the INEOS Grenadiers rider was reeled in with three kilometres to go after a concerted effort from Bahrain-McLaren.

Carapaz crossed the line in 11th place atop the Col de la Loze, 2:41 back on stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz after stage sixteen. Sirotti photo

The INEOS Grenadiers were active early on the run out of Grenoble, with a number of riders trying to make sure they made the break. Carapaz had the legs, with Dylan van Baarle, Michal Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe also in the mix.

In the overall GC battle Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) extended his yellow jersey advantage to 57 seconds over nearest rival Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).

Lennard Kämna's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

There were only two climbs on today’s stage, but being the Tour de France’s Queen Stage, these were going to be some of the hardest climbs that the race would have to offer. Starting the climbing 88.5km into the 170km stage, it was the famous Col de la Madeleine first, with an average gradient of 8.4% over its 17.1km distance, before the summit finish on the newly-paved Col de la Loze in Méribel – 21.5km at an average gradient of 7.8%.

Lennard Kamna winning stage 16

Lennard Kämna winning stage 16. Sirotti photo

In spite of taking the win yesterday, Lennard Kämna tried to jump in the break for a second time. While the initial move was pulled back, Lennard managed to stay ahead with four others, staying with this select group as they built a lead of nearly six minutes. Hitting the slopes of the Madeleine, it was clear the young German’s exceptional efforts on yesterday’s stage had taken their toll, dropping back to the peloton to save energy.

The ambitions of the GC riders for this stage were clear, and the BORA-hansgrohe riders were holding off to be in a position to challenge on another day, knowing just how brutal the changeable slopes of the Col de la Loze would be and its maximum gradient of 24% at the top of the climb. The level of suffering in the peloton confirmed this was the right decision, with Lennard and Emanuel Buchmann the first to come to the finish line a couple of minutes apart, and the rest of the team coming in safely within the time limit.

From the Finish Line:
"Today was a hard stage. I made it to the breakaway group but I didn't have the legs to follow them on the Col de la Madeleine. So, after that, I just wanted to ride to the finish." – Lennard Kämna

"As we have always said, we'll take our chances whenever we can, so today we tried to have a rider in the break. Our best option was Lennard because he could have the opportunity to maybe also fight for the mountain jersey. However, after yesterday's strong effort, Lennard didn't have the legs to follow the leading group in the Col de la Madeleine. This is understandable, because he's a young rider and had already spent a lot of energy in the last two and a half weeks. He put in a valiant effort and tried several times in all those stages, so at some point you need to realise that he will get tired. After that point, our goal was to save as much energy as we could because right from the start we knew the break didn't have much chance of making it to the finish. Even if Lennard had the legs, cresting the Col de la Madeleine would have been our goal. We want to save energy for tomorrow where we will give our best and try to fight for a stage win." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

And here's the report from Team Sunweb:

The queen stage of the race awaited for the peloton as they rolled out of the start town of Grenoble this afternoon, with two brutally difficult climbs including the brand new summit finish of Col de la Loze on the route. Before reaching the opening climb of Col de la Madeleine, a fierce pace was set in the peloton as a flurry of attacks flew from the bunch.

As on every stage so far the team were very attentive and infiltrated any large and potentially race winning breakaway, with Cees Bol, Nikias Arndt and Søren Kragh Andersen all active at points throughout the opening 20 kilometres. However, the elastic soon snapped and a five rider group forged clear.

With the bunch being controlled behind, the team focused on getting through the stage and conserving as much energy as is possible in a Tour de France mountain stage, with their eye on future stages. In the end the GC riders fought it out for stage glory, with all Team Sunweb riders crossing the line well within the time cut.

Tour stage 17

A day to go uphill. Sirotti photo

Speaking after the stage Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston said: “Today we looked to just come through the stage in a good way. With two really hard climbs we wanted to protect our guys, ready for the coming stages. The guys looked towards the bigger breakaways but it was only a small group that went clear. We regrouped in the bunch and focused on the final two climbs, and coming home with no problems. Now we’ll focus on the remaining stages.”

Egan Bernal withdraws from the Tour de France while sitting in 16th place, more than 19 minutes down

Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers sent me this:

Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France ahead of stage 17.

The 23 year old will now focus on his recovery from the Tour, and reset his goals for the remainder of the season.

INEOS Grenadiers Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “We have taken this decision with Egan’s best interests at heart. Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him and at this point, on balance, we feel it is wiser for him to stop racing.”

Egan Bernal said: “This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances. I have the greatest respect for this race and I am already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead.”

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