By Julien Pretot
MERIBEL, France (Reuters) – Primoz Roglic took a large leap in direction of a maiden Tour de France title when he prolonged his total lead after the seventeenth stage on Wednesday, an unforgiving mountain rollercoaster dominated by Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez.
Lopez prevailed on the finish of the 10km trek from Grenoble, 15 seconds forward of Roglic, who prolonged his benefit over fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar to 57 seconds, 4 days earlier than the ultimate parade in Paris.
Roglic was solely second greatest on the high of the Col de la Loze, an unforgiving 21.5km ascent at a median gradient of seven.8%, nevertheless it was sufficient for the Jumbo-Visma rider to tighten his grip on a race he has managed from the beginning.
Lopez, twice a Vuelta stage winner, jumped away from the main group 3.5km from the end and appeared to defy gravity within the finale because the highway rose as much as 25% underneath threatening skies, 2,304 metres above sea stage.
The 21-year-old Pogacar now faces an uphill battle to unsettle Roglic, who suffered however was by no means actually threatened.
Lopez moved as much as third within the standings, 1:26 off the tempo, forward of one other gruelling mountain stage on Thursday, over 175km between Meribel and La Roche sur Foron.
One other Colombian, Rigoberto Uran, had a nasty day and slipped right down to sixth from third.
The stage began with out defending champion Egan Bernal, who pulled out due to again pains, together with his Ineos Grenadiers group saying he would give attention to new objectives this season.
The British group shone on the highway, nonetheless, with Richard Carapaz the final man standing within the day’s breakaway, though the Giro d’Italia champion was caught by the primary contenders when Lopez upped the tempo.
Spaniard Mikel Landa’s Bahrain-McLaren group set a excessive tempo within the Col de la Madeleine, hoping to shake off a number of of Roglic’s group mates.
Whereas the transfer meant that twice runner-up Nairo Quintana was dropped, the Jumbo-Visma domestiques stayed with the group and the Dutch outfit had been in greater numbers within the finale.
Three breakaway riders – Julian Alaphilippe, Carapaz, Gorka Izagirre – reached the underside of the Col de la Loze with a 1:50 benefit, nevertheless it was clear it could not be sufficient on the hardest climb of this yr’s Tour.
Carapaz, nonetheless, capitulated when the highest weapons began the battle.
Lopez opened a niche over Roglic and Pogacar and by no means seemed again, incomes his Astana group their second stage win on this yr’s Tour.
Roglic didn’t reply at first, however he then accelerated to drop Pogacar, who might want to take dangers within the final mountain check on Thursday if he’s to beat the chances.
French president Emmanuel Macron adopted a part of the stage on the highway, the place a whole lot of followers gathered regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is extraordinarily vital to indicate that we will stay with the virus,” stated Macron.