Tour de France 2017 : Stage 19 – EBH finally gets his stage win

The longest stage of this year’s Tour de France was animated by the usual suspects: Thomas De Gendt, Jan Bakelants and Jens Keukeleire, who did their bit for breakaway fame. The latter pushed and chased and almost got the win, but were outfoxed by the cunning Edvald Boasson Hagen. Taking the shorter route around a roundabout, the Norwegian then took off at 2km and soloed to the line in what was his first win at the Tour in six years. GC classifications didn’t change, nor did any of the jerseys.

Rider of the Race

On a long stage at the end of a long Tour de France, one rider stood out above all in my eyes. Amid the tension surrounding the fight for the maillot jaune and with all other jerseys pretty much sealed, Jens Keukeleire took a stab at animating the proceedings. Having worked tirelessly for his Orica-Scott team and featured in several breakaways during the three weeks, Jens tried his luck one more time.

A group of 20 riders went clear of the peloton almost straight away and it seemed that the race was going to head for a reduced bunch sprint. Keukeleire, seemingly working for teammate Michael Albasini (or was it the other way around), accelerated and caused a split with 19km left on the stage.

The diminished group of 9 riders stood the chance for victory and Keukelaire was instrumental in both keeping the pace high and in chasing down wannabe victors. Although the win didn’t happen for him, he still managed to clinch a very respectable third place and the day’s combativity award.

Not a photofinish in sight!

It certainly pays to read the road book! As the fellow riders followed the lead motorbike on the left of the last roundabout to wind up the fight for the stage, Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) took the right hand side, which just happened to be a considerably shorter route. Once around, Arndt flicked his elbow, hoping for a short turn at the front from the Norwegian, but Boasson Hagen went into TT mode and never looked back. He wasn’t going to chance another photofinish!

Always up for a break

With tomorrow’s TT in mind, the teams that were eyeing the GC fight took a day off and came in over 12 minutes after the winner. A rather scenic stage otherwise, it highlighted the enormous skills of TV cycling commentators, filling hours of non-racing racing. And of course where there’s a break, there is Thomas De Gendt, who will certainly pick up the overall combativity award on Sunday, considering he has spent about a third of these three weeks in the break.

Top 5 stage 

1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) 5:06:09

2 Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) +0:05

3 Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) +0:17

4 Daniele Bennati (Movistar) same time

5 Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) s/t

Top 5 GC

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 83:26:55

2 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:23

3 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:29

5 Mikel Landa (Sky) +1:36

5 Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:55

All the jerseys

Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)

Points: Michael Matthews (Sunweb)

KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)

Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)

Team Classification: Sky

Most Aggressive Rider: Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott)

For race reviews, go to CyclingNews; official LeTour website is here

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