Yates shows strength and class on tough summit finish of stage 17 of the TDF

Wed 20 Jul 2016

Tour de France white jersey Adam Yates fought brilliantly on the tough summit finish of stage 17 today, gaining some time on his rivals and retaining third place on the general classification for ORICA-BikeExchange.

In the shadow of the highest mountain in the Alps, the awesome Mont Blanc, it was Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) who took the stage victory after a winning move from the breakaway.

Meanwhile, a few minutes down the road an attack by Richie Porte (BMC) split the favourites group apart with race leader Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) following and 23-year-old Yates reacting brilliantly to give chase.

Yates pushed on behind Porte and Froome and distanced the other chasers who struggled to maintain the tempo of the ORICA-BikeExchange rider.

Crossing the line eight seconds behind Froome in 12th place on the stage it was another impressive performance by the young Briton who gained time on second place Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and fourth place Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

“I am pretty satisfied with my performance today,” said Yates at the finish. “I managed to gain some time on Mollema and if a chance presents itself to take some seconds then I am going to try and do that.”

“The closer we can get to the podium the better and I am happy with how today’s stage went.”

Sport director Matt White echoed the sentiment from Yates and again praised the 23-year-old's efforts on a tough day in the Alps.

“Adam (Yates) did really well in the finale and I think his performance speaks for itself today,” said White.

“The team did a good job holding position over the course of the stage before Adam took over on the last climb. It will be a challenging time trial tomorrow followed by two more tough days in the mountains, but we are happy with our position.”

How it happened:

A fast and nervous start to stage 17 of the Tour de France saw numerous attacks form directly out of the Swiss start town of Bern but after 30kilometres of racing the attentive peloton had not allowed any of the moves to stick and the field was still together.

After 70kilometres, as the race started the Cote de Saanenmoser climb, 11 riders including Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan of Tinkoff attacked and began to develop a small lead.

The 11 leaders had over four minutes on the peloton as they crested the climb with a group of eight chasers in between at two minutes. Spanish all-rounder Ruben Plaza was part of the chasing group for ORICA-BikeExchange.

With 80kilometres left to race ten minutes separated the field with the Sagan/Majka group still ahead with two groups now chasing in front of the peloton.

Thomas Voeckler (Direct-Energie) and two others bridged across to the eleven leaders with around 60kilometres remaining and the peloton now 12minutes behind.

The situation was the same with 40kilometres to go on the flat approach through an incredibly scenic valley towards the final two climbs.

Over thirteen minutes separated the field at the start of the penultimate climb, the category one Col de la Forclaz as Sagan slipped out of the lead group after claiming the available sprint points prior to the climb.

Movistar began to force the pace at the front of the favourites group and immediately reduced the numbers to around 30 riders. The white jersey of Yates was clearly visible among the contenders with 20kilometres to go.

IAM-Cycling had two representatives in the breakaway group that had thinned down to nine riders and it was Stef Clement driving the group forward for the Swiss team with teammate Jarlinson Pantano sitting on.

Pantano and Majka jumped clear on the following descent only three kilometres away form the hors category final climb up to Finhaut-Emosson. The duo hit the climb with an advantage of ten minutes over the favourites group and a few hundred metres ahead of the chasers.

Zakarin set off in pursuit of Majka and Pantano and bridged across to the duo eight kilometres from the summit finish.

Two kilometres later and Zakarin attacked followed by Pantano as the pair distanced Majka with five kilometres to go.

Astana were dictating the tempo in the favourites group with Vincnzo Nibali and Diego Rosa looking to break the stranglehold of Team-Sky and set up Fabio Aru for the attack.

As Niabli and Rosa peeled off Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) accelerated viciously and reduced the group to around 12 riders. Valverde’s action was brief yet effective and Team Sky moved quickly to the front as the Spaniard faded and reclaimed control.

Zakarin won the stage, crossing the line some 20seconds ahead of Pantano as Richie Porte (BMC) attacked and completely broke the yellow jersey group apart. Froome gave chase and the former teammates moved clear with two kilometres to go.

Yates reacted well and took off in pursuit, distancing Aru, Quintana and Mollema before crossing the line just behind Porte and Froome.

Tomorrow’s stage 18 is the second individual time trial of this year's Tour and covers 17kilometres from Sallanches to Megeve. The course runs steadily uphill for 15kilometres before a sharp descent to the finish.

Tour de France stage 17 results:

1. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 04:36:33
2. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling) 00:00:55
3. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) 00:01:26
12. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:08:07

General classification after stage 17:

1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 77:25:10
2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 00:02:27
3.  Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:02:53