|2012 Tour de France - Stage 17|
|By Luke Allingham|
|2012 Tour de France - Stage 17|
|As the Tour de France entered its final mountain stage on stage 17, it was the final chance for the top competitors of race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and one of the final chances for Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) to battle for the King of the Mountains jersey. At the finish line in Peyragudes, Movistar's team leader, Alejandro Valverde, was crowned the stage winner after soloing to the finish. Bradley Wiggins was awarded the race leader's yellow jersey once again.
A breakaway once again conquered the day on stage 17, starting early as a small group and growing rapidly throughout the stage. Riders including: Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rui Costa (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and other top names. The breakaway gap hovered at 2 minutes for most of the day as Liquigas-Cannondale set the tempo at the front of the peloton.
As the breakaway splintered across the roads of stage17, all the top ten overall contenders quietly sat inside the peloton. It was not until inside the final twenty-five kilometers of the stage where Ivan Basso took control of the peloton for his team leader Vincenzo Nibali to close the two minute gap to Valverde.
Despite hard tempo by Basso, Valverde's gap hovered at the 2 minute mark. Shortly after Basso could no longer keep tempo of the G.C favorites group, the pace was risen by Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and others. Nibali was soon seen cracking, dropping off the G.C groups. As Nibali, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and other G.C contenders cracked under the pressure, Bradley Wiggins and his teammate, Chris Froome (Sky), began talking strategy for the finale.
Froome soon thereafter lifted the pace of the group. None of the others could reach the tempo of Froome and Wiggins and the two rider from Great Britain rode off in pursuit of the lone Spaniard up the road, Alejandro Valverde. The two riders from Team Sky crossed the finish line just 19 seconds off the pace of Valverde to no only preserve their 1-2 place at the top of the overall classification, but to also gain time on top of their best rivals, including Vincenzo Nibali.
Stage 17 Results
1. ESP VALVERDE Alejandro MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 12' 11''
2. GBR FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 19''
3. GBR WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 19''
4. FRA PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT + 00' 22''
5. FRA ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR + 00' 26''
6. BEL VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 00' 26''
7. ITA NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 37''
8. USA VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 54''
9. USA HORNER Christopher RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 01' 02''
10. IRL MARTIN Daniel GARMIN-SHARP + 01' 11'
General Classification After Stage 17
1. GBR WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 78h 28' 02''
2. GBR FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING + 02' 05''
3. ITA NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 02' 41''
4. BEL VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM + 05' 53''
5. USA VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM + 08' 30''
6. AUS EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 09' 57''
7. ESP ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 10' 11''
8. FRA ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR + 10' 17''
9. SLO BRAJKOVIC Janez ASTANA PRO TEAM + 11' 00''
10. FRA PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT + 11' 46''
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