Tour de France for Normal People: Stage 17

Stage 17: La Mure to Serre-Chevalier

The col du Galibier (alt. 2642m) is one of the giants in the legend of the Tour. It’s the third highest in the history after La Bonnette (2802m), the Iseran (2764m) and Agnel (2744m). It’s the highest stage finish in the history since Andy Schleck won up there in 2011. Interestingly, the climb that hosts the memorial of race founder Henri Desgrange hasn’t been on the Tour route since 2011. Actually, it was in 2015 but it was substituted by the col de la Croix de Fer due to a pile of rubble. Six years between two passages at the Galibier is a record. The peloton has changed a lot since 2011. From the current top 10 on GC, only Rigoberto Uran was racing the Tour six years ago, for Team Sky (26th). For the likes of Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet and even Nairo Quintana who targets a stage win in the Alps, the Galibier will be a new experience. Climbing from Valloire after the Télégraphe, it’s a grueling climb in the last eight kilometers past Plan-Lachat above 2000 metres of altitude. It’s a downhill finish 28km further down at Serre-Chevalier. It’s the kingdom of the climbers, the place for attacking the yellow jersey if Team Sky leaves some room for that.

Kittel is out

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As we saw yesterday Kittel was hurting and today the Green Jersey abandoned the race. This has been a bad tour for the big names, Kittel, Porte, Sagan, Cavendish and Thomas have all abandoned the tour early. Kittel had a bad wreck about 20K into the race and while it appeared to be a pretty bad wreck I would guess that it was more than today’s wreck that sent Kittel out of the race. The Quick Step race director even indicated to that fact. Either way Matthews, as long as he can survive into Paris will be the winner of the Green Jersey. It has been a rough tour for the Green jersey and sad to see Kittel who appeared to be in top form abandon early.

From Ski Jumper to Stage winner

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Former Ski jumper and now Tour de France stage winner Roglic takes his 1st tour stage win. Roglic was once a world junior champion ski jumper but after a near death experience he hung up the ski’s to pick up a bike. Not to mention that you get a stage win you get the stage win on one of the hardest stages in the tour 2.5 weeks into the race. I would expect that today’s stage win has put Roglic on the radar for a lot of teams and he will have a bright future in the peloton.

Uran moves into 2nd place overall

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Today’s biggest winner had to be Uran. He moved from 4th up two places into 2nd place overall. Uran now sits just 27 secs back from overall leader Chris Froome. With Aru losing a lot of time today and falling 53 secs and back to 4th place this created an opportunity for the other GC riders to move up in the overall. Chris Froome mentioned in his post race interview that Bardet indicated that Aru had dropped and that they should collaborate to put the hammer down. And that they did. What was impressive is that a man without a team like Team Sky Uran had the legs to out sprint all of the other GC contenders to take 2nd place on the stage and gain a 6 sec time bonus. If anyone’s going to attack Froome for yellow tomorrow is the last day. As Froome is a great time trialist and it will be hard to gain any time on him in the individual TT. But the race has come down to Froome, Uran and Bardet.

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