Nairo Quintana (Movistar) takes the Zwift Rider of the Day prize for his solo victory on stage 17 of the Tour de France. The Colombian jumped away from the GC group at the bottom of the final climb of the day, the recently paved Col du Portet, sweeping up the remains of the break en route to victory.
The shortest road stage of the Tour since 1988 (or 1996 if you’re counting Bjarne Riis’ victory on the shortened stage to Sestriere) was expected to be all-action from the get-go – especially with the starting grid thrown in. For the most part, though, the miniscule 65km stage was largely raced like a regular mountain stage.
A break got away early, Team Sky set the tempo at the front of the peloton, and the action came on the final climb. The speculated-about kamikaze attacks from fringe GC riders never materialised.
In fact, Quintana was the man to break the deadlock, along with Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates). The Colombian went on the offensive shortly after teammate Marc Soler had dropped back to set the pace at the front of the reduced peloton.
As has been the case for much of the Tour, there was no immedate reaction from behind. Instead, Team Sky continued their pacemaking as Quintana – then 4:23 down – left Martin behind and established a widening gap.
Quintana quickly set about sweeping up breakaway riders, spending some time with his teammate Alejandro Valverde, who helped widen the gap to those behind to 1:30 with 10km to go.
With Valverde spent, it was time to set off in pursuit of lone leader Tanel Kangert (Astana) and then the finish line. Despite Martin threatening to close the gap at times, the win was all but assured as the GC group began to attack one another 5km out.
It was, perhaps surprisingly, Quintana’s first Tour stage win in five years – his last coming at the end of his first participation in the race at Le Semnoz.
The win, and the time gained, sees the Colombian move up to fifth overall, 3:30 behind race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). It’s probably not where the double Grand Tour winner expected to be with only a single mountain stage and time trial remaining with which to affect the general classification, but as far as consolation prizes go, it’s far from a bad one.
“It was a hard day and we’d prepared well for it,” he said after the stage. “It went exactly as we’d planned. We had Valverde and Soler up front and their riding helped shake out the peloton – we knew it was a stage for pure climbers and we showed our strength.
“I wanted to win for my people in Colombia, after the months of hard work. We were down a bit in the last days, so we needed this win. It’s a wonderful day today.”
Daniel Ostanek: It’s been a tough old Tour de France for Quintana and his Movistar team. The much-lauded three-pronged strike force of him, Valverde and Mikel Landa hasn’t worked out. It doesn’t seem to have been a case of ‘too many cooks…’ though, rather the collective form just hasn’t been there.
It’s a nice pick-me-up for the team though, and if they’re feeling gutsy on the 200.5km mountain slog from Lourdes to Laruns on Friday then maybe there’s a podium place still up for grabs. If nothing else, the Spanish squad are back in control of their favourite team classification – they lead Bahrain-Merida by 24:20 after today’s stage.
On Tuesday’s stage 16 you voted for Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Frenchman took his second win of the race with an attack over the last climb of the day. While pursuing Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) on the descent to Bagnères-de-Luchon, he took advantage of the Brit’s crash to solo to victory.
You can vote for stage 17’s Zwift Rider of the Day below. We will announce the reader’s poll winner after Thursday’s stage 18.
Who is your Zwift Rider of the Day for stage 16 of the #TDF2018 ? Choose from Quintana’s solo victory, Thomas securing Sky leadership, Kangert fighting from the break, or Démare battling the time cut alone again
— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 25, 2018