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Thursday, July 20, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. - Mother Teresa

Tour de France: 2019

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2019: A Year of New Faces is available in both Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage 17 reports

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

Here's the report from GC leader Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has struck a blow on the queen stage of the Tour de France. The 26-year-old Dane of Team Jumbo-Visma left his main rival, Tadej Pogacar, behind early on the Col de la Loze and, after a strong acceleration, took a big lead in the general classification. With four stages to go, Vingegaard has a lead of seven minutes 35 seconds. The yellow jersey finished fourth behind three early escapees.

Vingegaard climbs the Col de la Loze to the finish. Sirotti photo

Team Jumbo-Visma responded to early attacks from UAE Team Emirates, which resulted in Tiesj Benoot and Wilco Kelderman being placed in a solid lead group. Behind them, Christophe Laporte and Nathan Van Hooydonck quickly took control on the first climbs. Despite the heat, the pace was consistently high.

At the foot of the Col de la Loze, the lead group with Benoot and Kelderman was three minutes ahead of the peloton. Vingegaard still had Sepp Kuss with him and sent the American to the front when it became clear that Pogacar was struggling. The yellow jersey then took off himself and continued to pull away. Vingegaard could not close the gap on eventual winner Felix Gall, but his efforts ensured he now has a firm grip on the yellow jersey.

"I'm super happy”, Vingegaard said. "We didn't expect the lead to be more than seven minutes, even though we wanted to take some time today. We didn't change our strategy after I won the time trial. The whole team rode great, and that was the deciding factor. We executed our plan perfectly.”

Vingegaard does not want to talk about having decided on the outcome of the Tour. "We're not in Paris yet. We have a challenging mountain stage on Saturday, so we must stay focused. I expect attacks. But we are in an excellent position.”

Kelderman stood by his leader in the final and was proud. "It's very nice to experience this. We've been working towards this for months, and it's incredible to see how Jonas is riding. I heard in my earpiece that Pogacar had to give up. At that moment, you know everything is going to be about Jonas. We had agreed that Tiesj would wait to set the pace. Our execution was perfect.”

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Here's the stage 17 report from second-place Simon Yates' Team Jayco AlUla:

After finishing in second place on the opening stage of the Tour de France, Briton Simon Yates came agonisingly close to taking the victory once again today, as the Queen stage ended with a nail-biting and tense chase into Courchevel.

Simon Yates finishes stage 17. Sirotti photo

After a gutsy ride, the Team Jayco AlUla rider eventually crossed the line for second place behind the solo leader Gall, after giving it his all to try and claim the third Tour de France stage win of his career. The 30-year-old subsequently climbed back up the general classification to fifth place but with the stage victory the squad’s target of the day.

The Australian outfit set out with the plan of getting Yates into the break of the day, and despite the best efforts from Jumbo-Visma to control the start of the stage, the British climber eventually made it into a large group of 34 riders alongside teammates Lawson Craddock and Chris Harper.

Craddock powered the break along for the majority of the stage until the breakaway reached the lower slopes of the Col de la Loze and Harper sprang into action to set a fierce tempo with Yates in his wheel. The pace proved too much for the majority of the remaining escapees before Felix Gall made his move and jumped clear of the vastly reduced group.

Yates and Harper didn’t panic, with the latter continuing to set a strong rhythm before swinging over and leaving it to his teammate to chase the lone leader. A tense battle then ensued as the gap between Yates and Gall continued to fluctuate and the duo ground their way up the punishing gradients.

The deficit fell as low as 15 seconds towards the final drag to the line, but in the end Gall did enough to hold off the hard chasing Yates to take the stage win. It was another bittersweet day for the man from Bury, who despite missing out on a stage win, took the team’s sixth top-five finish of the race and now climbs back up the general classification to fifth overall, just 18-seconds behind fourth place and 1’34” off the podium places with four days remaining.

Simon Yates:
“We really wanted to try and go after the stage today and all the guys have been fantastic, we had Lawson Craddock there driving the breakaway all day and then Chris Harper to raise the pace and pace me in the final and both guys did a spectacular job, so chapeau to them.

"You never know how fast those guys [Vingegaard and Pogacar] can come from behind, so that was always in the back of my mind and the rest of the guys. Chris did a fantastic job in the final part of the climb when they really started to raise the pace from behind.

"I didn’t know the climb and I don’t know if I’d change anything, but I was very wary of the altitude, so I tried to pace myself and go from there. I think I did a good ride, chapeau to Felix Gall, it was a great ride by him and I’m pretty happy with my ride, it’s a shame it couldn’t be a win, but that’s how it goes.”

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Here's the report from third-place Pello Bilbao's UAE Team Emirates:

Pello Bilbao put in another impressive display at the Tour de France, finishing third on a brutal day which saw the peloton tackle over 5,300 vertical meters and the infamous Col de la Loze before the finish into Courchevel.

Pello Bilbao finishes third. Sirotti photo

The battle for top 10 in the GC was pulled apart when a breakaway of over 30 riders formed, including Jack Haig and Pello Bilbao from Bahrain Victorious. With the gap steadily growing, Bilbao and Yates (Jayco AlUla) looked to profit against the other contenders around them in the GC back in the chasing group. Haig put in an almighty effort doing most of the work to widen the gap to the peloton behind.
At 13 km to go, the break split and Bilbao started to lose the wheel to Simon Yates and the day’s stage winner, Gall (AG2R Citroen). Bilbao kept a steady pace, and when the yellow jersey, Vingegard, caught him, he followed him before pipping him to the line to claim third behind  Simon Yates.

Bilbao was delighted with his performance and the team’s work which moves him up to 6th in GC and 31″ behind Simon Yates in 5th: “A tough day, especially the last climb. When you see that it’s still 28km to the top, it’s hard to be a cyclist in conditions like this. But I tried my best, and I’m so proud of the team, especially with Jack. He was impressive today. He deserved to win today’s stage, but in the end, with cyclists in the overall still in the game, we needed to try to make our best and try and jump some positions. It was a great day, thanks to Jack and all the team.

In the battle for the GC, Bilbao commented: “I think it’s going to be difficult because just the stage on Saturday maybe is the last opportunity. But usually, we know the last days are more blocked, and riders try to defend their positions more than going to attack, so I don’t know, it’s going to be difficult, but if we have the legs, we will try.”

Meanwhile, Phil Bauhaus abandoned the race. The German sprinter commented: “It’s hard to take, I tried my best, and I really put effort to make the time cuts over the past few stages. Today I was empty, it was full gas from the start, and I was alone. I tried, but as the time gap widened, catching the grupetto and making the time cut would be impossible.

It’s sad not to make it to Paris, celebrate this with my teammates, and finish the Tour de France as a rider. It’s been a crazy Tour and full gas from the start on nearly every stage. I can leave knowing I tried my best to give everything, and today was just a step too far.

Next year it won’t finish in Paris, but I hope to return and get the opportunity again to finish the Tour in Paris.”

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And here's the stage 17 report from GC fourth-place Carlos Rodriguez's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Carlos Rodriguez put in a hard-fought ride to retain fourth place overall following a brutal 17th stage at the Tour de France.

The Spaniard was supported well by his Grenadiers team-mates on the race’s queen stage, crossing the line in 15th place in Courchevel.

Riders after finishing the Cormet de Roseland.

Omar Fraile, Jonathan Castroviejo and Michal Kwiatkowski had helped up the tempo on the Col de la Loze, helping to limit the losses to the day’s breakaway riders up ahead.

The tempo also saw second-placed Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) begin to be distanced on the steep gradients.

Carlos was able to settle into a tempo following the major acceleration of yellow jersey holder Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma). He crossed the line one minute and 11 seconds back on nearest rival Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), holding his GC position with four stages remaining.

Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroen) claimed a stage win from the break, with fellow escapee Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) taking second and moving up to fifth place overall, now 18 seconds back on Rodriguez. Vingegaard now leads the race by 7:35 over Pogacar.

The stage saw Egan Bernal get back up and continue following a crash on the technical descent off the Cote de Longefoy.

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