Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 17 at the Tour de France, the 178.4km run from Muret to Saint-Lary-Soulan.
Following yesterday’s superb stage win from Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), the race continues as returns to the high mountains with what looks like a stage of two halves which is back-loaded with three tough and testing climbs. Before we have a quick look at today’s profile, here’s a quick reminder of who will be wearing what as respective leader in each of the four main classifications – in other words those that have jerseys. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has the maillot jaune, the leader’s yellow jersey, for the ninth consecutive day with not inconsiderable margin of 5min 18sec.
Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) may have not added a single point to his account in the mountains classification during Tuesday’s stage, but the Dutchman will again wear the maillot à pois, or polka dot jersey, as leader of that particular competition during today’s stage.
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will again be dressed in the maillot vert, the green jersey, as leader in the points competition after his advantage was reduced to 37 by Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) who currently sits in the best-of-the-rest seat.
As overall leader of the race, Pogacar also tops the best young rider classification, although Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) will wear the Slovenian’s maillot blanc, the white jersey, as second best.
And for anybody that missed Konrad’s fine solo victory on Tuesday, his first at the Tour de France, you can relive the highlights here . . .
So, what’s on today’s menu?
Featuring four categorised climbs – col du Peyresourde, col de Val Louron-Azet and col du Portet – and 4,375 metres in vertical elevation today’s stage will be tough day in the saddle. It is undoubtedly a big day for the climbers and so hopefully something – anything, please! – will happen in the general classification. In the absence of anything happening in what has become un peloton à deux vitesse thanks largely to the dominance of Pogacar and the failure of EF Education-Nippo, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers to shake the Slovenian down from his treetop, then at least we have the mountains classification competition to get excited about.
Poels may lead the mountains classification, but he can expect to be challenged by Michael Woods (ISN) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), the latter of whom, incidentally, won the stage the last time the Tour finished on the Col de Portet. The forecast in the mountains is for cold and wet weather which may play into the hands of Quintana, but once again you could list 10 or 15 possible stage winners, including Pogacar who also prefers these conditions.
But it is also another massive day for Cavendish and his Deceuninck-Quick Step bodygurads who will be doing their best to shepherd him through the mountains to ensure he completes the stage within the time limit. In case you have been on the moon, the British sprint has won for stages at this year’s race and is in the green jersey and must finish each stage withing strict time limits if he is to continue the next day. With two more possible sprint stages – Thursday’s and the final day in Paris on Sunday – Cavendish will be desperate to make sure he is in the best position possible to challenge for another two stages. And that place, for now, will be tomorrow’s start line.
Just eight teams – Ag2r-Citroën, Alpecin-Fenix, Bahrain Victorious, Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quick Step, Jumbo-Visma, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates – have won stages at the race, meaning a staggering 15 have yet to register a victory. Despite their efforts Arkéa-Samsic, Astana-Premier Tech, B&B Hotels p/b KTM, BikeExchange, Cofidis, DSM, EF Education-Nippo, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, Israel Start-up Nation, Lotto-Soudal, Movistar, Qhubeka-NextHash and TotalÉnergies are all winless. Today may represent one of their last opportunities to right that wrong.
Here’s a look at the all-important numbers from those climbs . . .
. . . and a breakdown of what points can be won in the mountains.
But what about those who only have eyes for the green jersey?