Tour de France Report: Stage 17
A decisive day for the King of the Mountains competition
By Larysa Pachulski, 1:32PM, Wed. Jul. 23, 2014
The 101st Tour de France continues through July 27. Click through to read our report of Stage 17.
Location: Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet
Duration: 124.5km/ 77.36mi
Terrain: Mountain Stage (tThree category 1 climbs, and one Hors Catégorie [uncategorizable] climb)
Weather: 17C/62.6F, 10km/hr winds
Why you should care: Today’s and tomorrow’s stages in the Pyrenees are critical for GC Contenders. The outcome of these stages will determine who will make podium on Sunday in Paris, and who will not.
These stages will also determine who the final King of the Mountains (KOM) will be, and the competition is close. With only one point between them, there is a lot of speculation over who will assert themselves in the KOM competition: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) or Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez (Katusha).
There were a total of 80 points available in the KOM competition on today’s stage: 10 points for each category 1 climb, and 50 points for the HC climb. No one rider could possibly take all 80 points, so Purito and Majka were going to have to win strategically.
Right off the bat, Katusha was working to launch Purito. They road at the front of the peloton and kept their enemies (the breakaway) close. Purito attacked the peloton as soon as it touched the climb to the col du Portillon. He succeeded in netting the full 10 points on the col, riding to the summit ahead of everyone else – including Majka, who didn’t even try to place and missed the opportunity to gain points at all, but that was his plan.
As the stage progressed, so did Purito. He continued to advance in the KOM standings, coming in the top 5 for each climb and gaining 24 points total by the final climb of Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet, compared to Majka’s paltry 10 points.
Majka must have known from the beginning of the stage that he had the legs to win the final HC climb. He gambled most of the stage and 30 points towards the KOM, counting on the final climb and being able to gain the maximum allotted points at its summit.
At 2.5km to the top of the final climb, having forgone many opportunities throughout 98% of the stage, Majka attacked Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) – the only other leader in the breakaway – and held his lead to the finish line, for the maximum KOM points and his second stage win of this Tour.
It was a perfect strategy for Majka by Tinkoff-Saxo, with a notable contribution from teammate Nicolas Roche, who pulled Majka up to Visconti on the ascent. We all get by with a little help from our friends, and as Majka pointed out, even inanimate objects can be friends…
Hey, us Poles need to stick together.
The KOM standing going into the final stage in the Pyrenees tomorrow is: Majka, 149 points; Nibali, 118 points; and Purito, 112 points.
The standings for the overall are: 1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.FR) 4. Jean-Christopher Pe’raud (AG2R La Mondiale) 5. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) 6. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing)
See you in the mountains.
Who do you think will win the next stage? Sound off in the comments board below.