Bedecked in more gold than your average pirate, Ilnur Zakarin stomped his way to a magnificent solo victory at the Emosson Dam. The Russian launched a series of stinging attacks to distance first Rafal Majka and then Jarlinson Pantano, just about managing to zip his jersey before collapsing over the line into the arms of the catchers. Chris Froome tightened his grip on the maillot jaune as Nairo Quintana was distanced.
Rider of the Race
Close decision for the award today. Nominees included Vincenzo Nibali for taking a fight to Team Sky on behalf of Fabio Aru. IAM cat Jarlinson Pantano for oh so nearly making it two wins at this Tour – and on Colombia’s national day to boot! However, the winner is [drumroll……..]
I have to give this to Ilnur Zakarin – For attacking at the opportune moments, for giving it everything he had in a superb display of immodest riding, and for putting up with the team car yelling at him to zip his jersey up as the finish line hove into view. I honestly thought he was going to fall off as he attempted to defeat both the double digit incline and his recalcitrant lycra.
The talented climber suffered a Giro ending crash on the descent of the Col dell’Agnello this year and has trained hard to be back in form for the Tour. He was unlucky on stage 15 when the loss of a contact lens dented his chances of victory after a strong ride in the break. Today he had both lenses intact and eyes fixed firmly on the prize. I was thrilled to see him take his maiden Tour de France victory in such swashbuckling style.
I did my best today. I’m very happy now. Thanks to my teammates for the support. This result for me is no surprise because I try and win. It’s a dream.
Attacks, winner and losers
We finally got some action in the yellow jersey group. It was mainly aimed at trying to unhitch members of the Sky train and was ultimately unsuccessful in this goal. The men in black were impressively fast and unrelenting in their support of Chris Froome. However, surges in pace from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) allied to the fast tempo set by the Astana tag team of Nibali and Diego Rosa did put riders in trouble; with Tejay van Garderen distanced early in the skirmish to finish +26:15 mins down on the winner. In contrast, team mate Richie Porte had a great day. Attacking with 2km to go, he briefly held a gap over Froome but was soon joined by him, and together they worked to gain time on all their rivals. Lil’ R now lies 6th and 1:34 off the podium. Nairo Quintana was once again found wanting and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) struggled. Both lost over 30secs and were overtaken on the run to the line by Adam Yates, Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet and Louis Mentjes. The GC podium remains unchanged, but the gaps have narrowed. It’s all to play for in the climbing time trial tomorrow.
Peter Sagan made the break of the day for the fifth time at this Tour de France. So far the Velvet Samurai has clocked up around 400km off the front of the peloton. That’s 10km and one break more than 2015’s edition, and we’re only on stage 17! Why does he do it? Well of course he can add to his points tally by winning the intermediate sprints, he’s currently on 425 points, only seven below his record winning score from last year. But we like to think he just goes in there for the hell of it. Here he is still having fun at the summit today.
Summit finishes make for precarious team bus parking.#HowDoTheyDoIt
1 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 4:36:33
2 Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) +0:55
3 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) +1:26
4 Kristijan Durasek (Lampre) +1:32
5 Brice Feillu (Fortuneo Vital-Concept) +2:33
GC top 5
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +2:27
3 Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) +2:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:27
5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +4:15
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
KOM jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)
Best Young Rider: Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image: Ilnur Zakarin © Jean Catuffe/Getty Images