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Tour de France 2012: Stage 17

Strong bonds and passive-aggressive tweets

By Larysa Pachulski, 1:58PM, Fri. Jul. 20, 2012

Tour de France 2012: Stage 17

Bagnères-De-Luchon to Peyragudes 143.5 km (89 miles) Last day in the Pyrenees, y'all!

Tour Talk
I guess the bond between Bradley Wiggins (Britain) and his key domestique, Christopher Froome (Britain), is stronger than the passive-aggressive tweets of their respective significant others. Here is what Wiggo had to say about Froome, "Chris was super strong again today. He's super excited. He's been a fantastic team-mate during this Tour de France. For sure, one day, he'll win the Tour and I'll be there beside him to do it." Awwwwww!

Stage Highlights
• Twenty-three man break away with yesterday's stage winner Thomas Voeckler (France), Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Brice Feillu (France), and Levi Leipheimer (USA) to name a very few.

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) and Voeckler, the two leaders of the King of the Mountains competition have dropped everyone else in the break away for a race to the summit of the first col. This is the last day of the Tour 2012 in the mountains. By the end of the stage only one of them can be in the polka dot jersey.

The results over the first col: Voeckler, Kessiakoff, Pierre Rolland (France), Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Sandy Casar (France)

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) – third place in the overall classification – has accelerated away from the peloton! He is now 25 seconds ahead of the peloton that includes Wiggo in yellow! Amazing. Knowing that the break away would not survive should he join it, Nibali has shaken the hand of Valverde (who could win the stage if Nibali stays back) and is now waiting for the peloton to catch up with him. He has relinquished his chance to be in yellow. Nibali is caught by the peloton.

• An interview with Tejay van Garderen (USA) before the day's stage lets us in on where BMC stands at this point, safely out of contention for the yellow jersey. "It's disappointing because we have lofty goals. We came here to win and that's not going to happen. But we still have two people in the top 10 and the white jersey, we're still going to race aggressively … this Tour is not a failure."

• 500 meters to the summit of the second col, Voeckler came from behind in an attack on Kessiakoff, making it over the second summit before the rest of the break away for the second time today. The results over the second col: Voeckler, Kessiakoff, Casar, Egoi Martinez (Spain).

• Three team Movistar riders – Valverde, Reuben Molina Plaza (Spain), and Rui Costa (Portugal) – are in the first chase on the three leaders of the stage. Soon Valverde and teammate Costa are the two leaders of the stage. By 3.5 km to the summit, Valverde is on his own. The summit of the col is 32 km away from the finish line. The order over the col: Valverde, Martinez, Costa, Blel Kadri (France), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Voeckler, and Kessiakoff. Could Nibali's nod to Valverde have provided the rider with extra motivation to win the stage? Or did Nibali tell Valverde that if he didn't win the stage, and therefore made Nibali sacrifice a potential Tour win for nothing, he would hunt him down? We may never know.

• Within the last 25 km Valverde is still in the lead. His closest rival, Costa, has misjudged a turn losing him quite a lot of time. Valverde and Martinez are the two current leaders of the stage.

 • With the quickening pace of the peloton leading to the finish line, Evans is dropped off the back of the peloton. As suggested previously, Evans is no longer the concern of his domestique Tejay who is trying to keep the white jersey for himself and his team and is still safely in the peloton.

• Perhaps because of the double points available at the top of the last col, Wiggins has moved himself to the front of the peloton and has accelerated in what looks like a chase on Valverde. Riders who have been unable to keep up with the sudden acceleration include Nibali and Tejay! Valverde is still in the lead with 2 km to go, but Froome is looking anxious to break away from the peloton to battle it out with Valverde for the stage win. However, being that Froome is in second place for the overall (second to his team leader Wiggo that is), Froome would need permission from Wiggo to break away and gain time on the yellow jersey. Will Wiggo concede and let his faithful domestique have the stage win?

• Too late. Valverde has won the stage by 18 seconds to Froome. How are the two British teammates relations now?

Here Jersey Lineup End of Stage 17
Yellow Jersey (best overall): Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Thomas Voeckler (France) Europcar

Top 10 After Stage 17
1) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
2) Christopher Froome (Britain) Sky
3) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
4) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol
5) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
6) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
7) Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) RadioShack Nissan Trek
8) Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar
9) Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) Astana
10) Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Bigmat

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