Thomas solidifies Tour lead as Froome cracks in the Pyrenees

Chris Froome cracked in the feared 17th stage of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees yesterday, solidifying Sky teammate Geraint Thomas' hold on the yellow jersey.

Moviestar Team rider Nairo Quintana of Colombia wins the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a 65-kilometer mountainous ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet, yesterday. 

Four-time champion Chris Froome cracked in the feared 17th stage of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees yesterday, solidifying Sky teammate Geraint Thomas’ hold on the yellow jersey.

Colombian climber Nairo Quintana of Moviestar won the short mountainous stage with a solo attack up the brutal finishing climb to Col du Portet.

Quintana, a three-time podium finisher in the Tour, finished 28 seconds ahead of Irish rider Dan Martin (UAE), while Thomas crossed third, 47 seconds back. Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo) was fourth, 52 seconds behind.

Froome finished eighth, 1:35 behind, and dropped from second to third overall, a distant 2 minutes, 31 seconds behind Thomas.

Dutchman Tom Dumoulin moved up to second, 1:59 behind Thomas, who is seeking his first Grand Tour victory.

Froome’s failure to stay with Thomas in the final few kilometers of the 16km climb to the finish amid a series of attacks by rivals means the Kenya-born Briton is in danger of finishing off the podium.

Froome is attempting to match the Tour record of five victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

It was Quintana’s second career stage victory in the Tour, having also won a leg in 2013.

A Formula One-like grid start introduced to the Tour for the first time had little impact on the race as Thomas and Froome waited for their Sky teammates to join them.

Welshman Thomas will start today’s 18th stage, a mainly flat 171km ride from Trie-sur-Blaise to Pau ahead Sunweb’s Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d’Italia champion.

Tomorrow’s stage is the final day in the mountains, but has a downhill finish in Laruns. The final podium placings will be decided by the penultimate-stage time trial, over 31km, on Saturday before the three-week race ends on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Belgian Philippe Gilbert was forced to withdraw from the Tour with a fractured left kneecap after a spectacular crash into a ravine in stage 16.

Quick-Step veteran Gilbert was 57.2km from the finish and in the lead of the 218km-long stage when he negotiated a bend badly and flew headfirst over a wall. Although he was helped back onto his bike to finish the stage, won by French teammate Julian Alaphilippe, Gilbert emerged from the X-ray truck suffering from his endeavors.

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