Wednesday July 17th, 2013

Stage 17Embrun / Chorges

Start 10h15 GMT 2+

Froome Fastest: the leader wins again

Stage summary17.07.2013Stage 17- Embrun / Chorges

Chris Froome can do no wrong. He has confirmed, yet again, that he is the fastest rider in the 100th Tour de France. The Brit from Sky Procycling beat Alberto Contador by 8.82 seconds to win a time trial for the first time from his three starts in the Tour. Last year he was second to Bradley Wiggins twice, today he was almost nine second ahead of one of the former champions and yet again demonstrated that his preparation for the race has been perfect. He was given leadership status after stepping off the podium as runner-up in the 2012 edition and after today it seems only an accident can prevent him from winning the yellow jersey in 2013. Unlike his main rival, he opted to swap a bike just before the 20km mark of the 32km stage from Embrun to Chorges but even that bit of juggling - switching from a road bike to a TT-specific one - couldn't help Contador win a TT stage. The rider who had been in second overall, Bauke Mollema was well down the rankings as he neared the end of the stage and his shift down the classification was made even worse when he thumped into a barricade 1.2km from the finish, rubbing salt into wounded pride... he would lose 2'09» to the stage winner and end up 6'23» behind Froome.
If there were awards for the bravest and most unfortunate rider in the 17th stage, Jean-Christophe Peraud would be the winner. His Tour de France came to an end 2km from the finish of the time trial and it was so because of a dramatic crash. Not only did he land heavily on his right shoulder, but he did so for the second time today after having an accident while training on the course earlier in the day. He was in ninth overall but is now out of the race.

The progress report
The 32km time trial for stage 17 began under bright blue skies and with temperatures in the mid-20s (Celsius). The first to start the race from Embrun to Chorges was Svein Tuft (OGE) at 10.17am. Riders began the TT at two minute intervals with many of the early starters opting to use standard road bikes on a course that featured two category-two climbs, the cote de Puy-Sanieres (which also marked the first time check, at 6.5km) and the cote doe Reallon (the second intermediate check, at 20km). Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM) crashed while doing a recon of the course in the morning and had to get scans on a shoulder that he hurt in the incident. He was ninth overall after 16 stages and, despite scans revealing a small fracture of his right clavicle, he took the start at 4.09pm.

Westra sets the early standard
Most riders opted to use standard road bikes for the TT today because of the hilly, technical nature of the course. The time trial specialists who excelled in stage 11 did not fare too well; Svein Tuft (OGE) was sixth in Mont-Saint-Michel but he covered the first 6.5km in 18'06”, while the 30th starter Lieuwe Westra (VCD) did the same distance in 15'42”. The Dutchman held the best time at each check – finishing in 54'02” – until Alessandro De Marchi (CAN). He was 10” behind at the 6.5km mark but 13” ahead at 20km but Westra's time at the finish was 13” better than the Italian. The first to beat Westra's time was Jon Izaguirre who covered the course at an average speed of 35.6km/h, beating Westra by 4” on the same day that his brother, Gorka, was a non-starter. Van Garderen (BMC) was fourth best at 6.5km, 1st at 20km and 1st at the end of the stage in 53'24” (35.9km/h).

Rain starts to fall with 55 riders yet to finish
After the arrival of van Garderen, the riders on the course had to deal with the extra challenge of wet roads. Rain started to fall at around 3.15pm. It was particularly wet on the second climb but it was still dry at Puy-Sanieres and although some riders in the middle of the field had very wet conditions, the roads dried up by the time the later starters set off. Van Garderen maintained some optimism but, while in the ‘hot seat' he suggested that Froome would probably beat him: “The way Froome is riding right now I think that, even if it's raining, he might just beat me but who knows, I might just be the luckiest guy here...” Valverde was the first to be De Gendt's time (by 16”) and the Spaniard was 59” ahead of van Garderen at the second check, averaging 30.9km/h for the first 20km.

Peraud crashes out of the Tour
Despite his injuries, Peraud was 21st best at the 20km mark but, with 2km to go in the stage, he had a terrible crash and abandoned the Tour. He had been in ninth place overall. He landed heavily on his right shoulder which is exactly what he crashed on earlier in the day.

Contador leads at every check... but the last: Froome takes the win
Contador was fastest at the 6.5km and 20km mark but it's worth noting that: 1. Contador did not change his bike; 2. Froome did stop and swap his bike about 100m before the time check of the 20km mark. Furthermore, the road had dried up a lot by the time that the last riders were on course but there were still very wet patches on the descent leading to Chorges. Contador beat Rodriguez's time by just 0.72 of a second (setting an average speed of 37.1km/h) to take the lead with only Mollema and Froome to finish. With 1.2km to go, Mollema overshot a sweeping right turn and hit the barriers hard but did not fall to the ground. He did, however, have to stop and reclip into the pedals before getting moving again. He would finish the stage in 11th place and drop from second to fourth overall.
The last rider to finish was also the fastest. Chris Froome beat Contador by 8.82 seconds after covering the 32km course at an average speed of 37.2km/h. He increased his advantage over second place, now Contador at 4'34”. This is Froome's first victory in a time trial at the Tour de France, his third stage win in 2013 and the fourth of his career. He will wear the yellow jersey in the stage to Alpe d'Huez on the last Thursday of the 100th edition.

Stage 17 Embrun / Chorges

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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