Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) showed his breakaway companions a clean pair of heels when he attacked at the foot of the Col d’Allos, soloing away for his first visit to the top step of a Tour podium. A frisky first day in the Alps also saw changes in the overall classification with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) losing time in a crash and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) forced to abandon due to sickness.
Rider of the day
Best groomed beard in the peloton and my rider of the day is the very kick-ass Simon Geschke. It was ferocious work to even get into the breakaway of 28 riders, and when they started to lose some impetus just at the foot of the Col d’Allos the Giant rider saw his chance and went for it. He held a minute’s advantage as he topped the highest point in the Tour, his nerve on the descent, and the chasing duo of Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) at bay on Pra Loup to take only his third ever professional win.
Geschke is so often a man who rides his heart out for the Giant team, getting John Degenkolb into the right place at the right time or chasing the breaks down. I love Love LOVE it when a rider like this wins. There were tears on the podium, and I defy anyone to be dry-eyed watching the post stage interview. Champagne for the Giants tonight.
Three things we noticed
1. GC ups and downs. The first of four Alpine stages and the GC contenders are coming out to play. Let’s face it, it is now or never. Mathias Frank (IAM) rode superbly to take fifth place on the stage and move up to eighth overall. Things didn’t go so well for Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) – he crashed on the descent of the Col d’Allos and lost enough time that Geraint Thomas (Sky) was able to leapfrog him into fourth place. The crash happened off-camera, but by all accounts without the quick thinking of Peter Sagan, the time loss could have been larger.
2. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Today saw the retirement of another six riders from the race, among them World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and young Irish sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon). Sam has been suffering for days off the back of the peloton and has ridden with a brave race. #Chapeau Sam, and remember it’s not goodbye, just au revoir.
Sadly the race also lost a rider from the other end of the classification. It was dreadful to watch third-placed Tejay van Garderen suffering today, but to see him climb off and abandon the race due to sickness was just heartbreaking. He has ridden so well this season and had a really good chance of a podium finish in Paris.
3. It was 40 years ago today. The stage finish atop the cat 2 climb of Pra Loup holds a special place in Tour history. In 1975, with Eddy Merckx in the mailllot jaune and going for his sixth consecutive overall title, French rider Bernard Thévenet gave the home fans something to cheer. A minute behind The Cannibal at the foot of the climb he refused to give up, catching and passing his tiring opponent on the ascent to take the lead and eventually the first of his two Tour victories. It was a superb duel and such a nice touch to see the anniversary marked when Le Tombeur de Merckx was presented with a special jersey by Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
Stage 17 result
1. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) 4:12:17
2. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:30
3. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) +1:01
4. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +1:36
5. Mathias Frank (IAM) +1:40
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 69:06:49
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:10
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +4:09
4. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +6:34
5. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +6:40
6. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +6:23
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +8:04
8. Mathias Frank (IAM) +8:47
9. Bauke Mollema (Trek) +13:08
10. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) +11.03
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
King of the Mountains leader: Chris Froome (Sky).
Best young rider: Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Team classification: Movistar.
Link: Official race website
Featured image: Stage winner Simon Geschke (Giant Alpecin) – Race website/ASO/B.Bade