Beginning with an F1 style grid start, the incredibly short 65km Stage 17 from Bagnéres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan is intended to light a fire beneath the general classification, if not a stack of C4. With an astounding 3200m of climbing in such a brief time, this will be a brutal affair which is likely to transform cracks of weakness into gaping voids within a few pedal strokes. The finale is atop the monstrous Col du Portet, demanding more than 2000m of climbing itself from bottom to top, destined to see some riders succumb to its fierce slopes.
Romain Bardet must attack today if he is to have anything to help limit his losses in the upcoming individual time trial. Such an intense stage will lend itself well to his explosive nature, while the distance will also make it harder for his rivals to calculate when to reel him back into the lead group. Tactically astute and looking strong, a well timed attack upon the Col du Portet may cause havoc amongst the general classification group.
Chris Froome will look to take advantage of those attempting to crack yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas, keeping his powder dry and pouncing with a full gas effort when the opportunity appears. Renowned for his high cadence attacks on the steepest of climbs, the day’s concluding ascent is going to be decisive and lends itself well to Froome’s ability to drill his way to the summit. Depending on how teammate Thomas performs, there is a strong possibility that Froome will finish the day with a stage win and the maillot jaune.
Adam Yates was unfortunate yesterday when crashing on the final descent while looking on course to secure his first Tour de France stage win. However, the British rider has already commented on how much more suitable today’s course is for him, signalling that he still feels strong enough to contest honours after his efforts yesterday. With no real threat to the general classification, there is every chance Yates will also be gifted the freedom to attack while the bigger names simple stare at one another.
Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk, Mikel Landa & Nairo Quintana all know that they need to perform strongly today, though it might simply be a case of survival for these, as their chances of genuinely putting time into the duo of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome looks as tough as the Col du Portet itself.
1st Adam Yates 2nd Romain Bardet 3rd Chris Froome