Tadej Pogacar claimed his third stage victory of the 109th Tour de France at Peyragudes, beating Jonas Vingegaard in a two-man vertical sprint but the Dane retained the yellow jersey in the second of three Pyrenean stages. Brandon McNulty rounded out the podium of stage 17 after he pulled for Pogacar in the hills. Geraint Thomas managed to hold onto his third place overall.
PHILIPSEN BEFORE VAN AERT AT THE INTERMEDIATE SPRINT
144 riders took the start of stage 17 at 13.22. 2 non-starters: Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). There were many attacks and accelerations, but except for Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic) and Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadier) for a little while none of the breakaway attempts worked out. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won the intermediate sprint ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at La Barthe-sur-Nest (km 32.9). Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost) and Guillaume Boivin (Israel-Premier Tech) went clear off the peloton at km 44. More than 50km were covered in the first hour of racing. The Canadian couldn’t follow the Briton at the beginning of the ascent to col d’Aspin.
PINOT FIRST AT COL D’ASPIN AND LA HOURQUETTE D’ANCIZAN
Right after Doull was reeled in, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) managed to go clear 8km before the summit. Pinot crested col d’Aspin in first position before Lutsenko while Geschke defended his polka dot jersey crossing in third place. A group of 15 was formed behind the leading duo before Romain Bardet (DSM) attacked from the peloton and made the junction with the counter-attackers. Pinot and Lutsenko, again in the same order atop La Hourquette d’Ancizan, were timed 45’’ ahead of the 15-man chasing group and 1’20’’ ahead of the yellow jersey peloton from which Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadier) was dropped off.
THE HUGE WORK OF BRANDON MCNULTY
Pinot and Lutsenko were reeled in by their 14 chasers 30km before the finish. Leknessund attacked in the ascent to Val Louron-Azet. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost) chased him down but with no success while Pinot, Bardet and their companions were reeled in and later dropped by Vingegaard and Pogacar. 2.5km before the top of Val Louron, a leading trio was formed with Brandon McNulty, Vingegaard and Pogacar, the American from UAE Team Emirates setting a high tempo to prepare an offensive by the defending champion. Pogacar attacked just before the summit but it only enabled him to crest Val Louron-Azet (cat. 1) in first position and the trio was back together again in the downhill with McNulty paving the way. 10km before the end, Kuss, Bardet, Leknessund, Lutsenko and Thomas were 1’15’’ adrift. The final ascent didn’t change the race scenario as McNulty kept pulling with Pogacar and Vingegaard in his slipstream. Thomas defended his third place overall by showing he’s the “best of the rest” after the two giants of the 109th Tour de France.