Nairo Quintana has claimed the 17th and shortest road stage of the 2018 Tour de France, a 65km route containing three tough climbs and more than 3000m of elevation.
The Movistar climber took the highest summit of the 105th edition in a solo move on the final climb to col du Portet.
Fantastic for the Colombian climber! But more interest was on Team Sky and the dynamics between race leader Geraint Thomas and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome.
Thomas Climbs Away From Froome
Thomas extended his lead in the overall ranking last night after Froome showed signs of faltering – the Kenyan-born Brit not matching Tom Dumoulin’s pace on the final climb of the day.
Geraint Thomas now leads the race by 1minute and 59 seconds with Froome third overall, 2:31 back on Thomas and 32 seconds behind second-placed Dumoulin.
After the stage Thomas told Eurosport he was feeling good through the stage and the day was about defending that lead.
“I gained a few seconds on Dumoulin and Roglic – so a good day, I’m very happy,” he said.
“At the bottom of the climb obviously Quintana and Dan Martin went really early and then when Roglic went we forced Dumoulin to ride. The boys were just incredible again, everyone was really riding out of their skin. We’re riding so well as a team, that’s the reason I’m in this jersey.”
Thomas – simply known as ‘G’ – was then asked his thoughts on securing the overall win.
“I don’t even let myself think about it,” he said. “I just keep doing what I’m doing, so just recover as best I can, get to the hotel and think about tomorrow. I just take it day by day, as soon as you start thinking too far ahead, bad stuff happens.”
Final Sprint Stage Awaits
Tonight’s Stage 18 is one more suited to the sprinters. The final climbing stage comes on Friday night, with a 200km Pyrenean stage that includes close to 5000m of climbing. Then on Saturday, Stage 20 is a hilly individual time trial – the riders rolling down the start ramp in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle for 31km to Espelette.
Stage 17 Top 5
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 2:21:27
2. Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) +28”
3. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +48”
4. Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +52”
5. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) s.t.
Overall standings After Stage 17
1. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 70:34:11
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +1’59”
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 1’35”
4. Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +2’47”
5. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3’30”