Miguel Angel Lopez won stage 17 of the Tour de France at the summit of the Col de la Loze above Meribel as Primoz Roglic distanced Tadej Pogacar in the brutal finale to strengthen his grip on yellow.
As the gradients at the top of the 21-kilometre climb hit 24 per cent, the Colombian Lopez was able to ride away from the other contenders for a stage win that moves him up to third overall.
Roglic followed over the line 15 seconds later with Pogacar losing his wheel in the final metres, conceding a further 15 seconds that see his deficit in second place grow to 57 seconds.
Lopez now sits third, one minute and 26 seconds down, after Rigoberto Uran faded late on.
"I'm very emotional," Astana's Lopez said. "We dreamed about it, we did it. I'm thinking about my family."
The 170km stage from Grenoble, featuring two hors categorie climbs with summits about 2,000 metres, would have suited an on-form Egan Bernal, but the day began with news that the defending champion had withdrawn from the race after shipping 18 minutes in two days as a result of a back injury.
Instead, the Ineos Grenadiers were again active in the breakaway with Richard Carapaz the final survivor of a break which had featured Julian Alaphilippe, Gorka Izaguirre, Dan Martin and Tuesday's winner Lennard Kamna when they hit the Col de la Madeleine midway through the stage.
Carapaz went alone on the final climb, briefly stretching his advantage as the contenders weighed each other up, but he was caught with 3km to go as the attacks began in sight of the steepest sections.
Lopez struck out for glory soon after Carapaz had been passed, but all eyes were on the battle between the two Slovenians slugging it out for yellow.
Roglic eased his way back to the wheel of Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss and then rode away from Pogacar at the very end as the UAE Team Emirates rider was left to push away over-zealous fans who outwardly ignored pleas to respect the race amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Adam Yates lost time in the finale but remains in fifth place, now three minutes and 14 seconds off the yellow jersey behind Richie Porte in fourth.
"Tough day, but I hung in there as long as I could so we can be happy with that," the Mitchelton-Scott rider said.
"We've got a big stage tomorrow, a lot of altitude metres, and then all we've got after that is the time trial, one day all by myself so we'll keep going. Hopefully tomorrow I've got good legs and we'll keep trying."
At the start of the day, Sam Bennett kept himself glued to Peter Sagan's wheel and was able to use the intermediate sprint to add two points to his advantage in the green jersey, which now stands at 47 points.
Pogacar led the peloton over the Madeleine and added the king of the mountain's polka dot jersey to his best young rider's white jersey, but his odds of upgrading to yellow before Paris lengthened by the end of the day.
Superman Lopez wins queen stage!
Miguel Ángel López (Astana), the rider nicknamed Superman back in Colombia, soared high above his rivals to claim a memorable first stage win on his Tour de France debut.
After Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) appeared to have ridden team leader Primoz Roglic off his wheel just under three kilometres from the 2,304m above sea level summit of the col de la Loze, López took advantage of any physiological advantage he may have had over his rivals being born at high altitude, and the brief moment of confusion that may have unsettled the otherwise unflappable Jumbo-Visma team.
With the road pitching up to 25 per cent gradient in places on this brutal hors catégorie climb, the final couple of kilometres of rising road took an eternity to complete. Each effort from the exhausted riders looking like one last hit out in the final round of a particularly hard fought heavyweight bout.
Stuck between rock and a hard place — appearing unsure whether he should wait for Roglic or follow the wheel of López — Kuss eventually had his mind made up for him when, on a particularly nasty corner, the Colombian dropped the young American.
“I was riding the front and I accelerated over the top of one of the transitions and I looked back and no-one was behind me. All of a sudden, López came across, I tried to stay with him but he was going really strong," Kuss said immediately afterwards. “At that point when I knew I was over the limit, I backed off and tried to pace Primoz a little bit, accelerate with him. It was good.”
Having regained contact with Kuss having lifted himself up from the canvas from the initial López blow, Roglic set about shaking off Slovenian compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) who had glued himself to the wheel of the maillot jaune before putting further time into his nearest rival. Pogacar may have clawed a few seconds back in the final 200 metres before finishing third.
Roglic extended his lead in the general classification after completing the stage 15sec ahead of Pogacar. Coupled with his time bonus, Roglic increases his lead to 57sec. For his troubles, López leapfrogged Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) to third in the overall standings.
Having added a further 24 points to his tally in the mountains classification with his third-place finish, Pogacar takes the polka-dot jersey off the shoulders of Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale). The youngster now holds two jerseys after starting the day in white as the best young rider.
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) extended his lead over Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) by two points in the race for the green jersey, while Matteo Trentin (CCC) remains third.
300 metres to go
Miguel Ángel López is not going to be caught here, the Colombian is going to win stage 17 at the Tour de France. That win be a third grand tour stage win to add to his palmarès alongside the two he claimed at the 2017 edition of the Vuelta a España and a second for his Astana team following Alexey Lutsenko's victory in the opening week.
800 metres to go
Miguel Ángel López rises out of his saddle, surely he can hold on for a maiden Tour de France stage win. Primoz Roglic is gaining time on Tadej Pogacar, moments away from extending his overall lead.
1km to go
Miguel Ángel López is burying himself here, grappling with the vertiginous slopes of the col de la Loze. But can López hold off the looming Primoz Roglic and give Colombia cycling fans reason to cheer after defending champion Egan Bernal abandoned and national hero Nairo Quintana went missing in action?
1.5km to go
Primoz Roglic has dropped Tadej Pogacar, the maillot jaune is off in pursuit of the Colombian Miguel Ángel López. The Astana rider, however, has an advantage of 10sec. More importantly for Roglic here will be the time gains he can put in on Pogacar.
2km to go
Miguel Ángel López is the lone leader, holding a five-second lead. Primoz Roglic and Sepp Kuss trail, just ahead of Tadej Pogacar.
2.3km to go
Primoz Roglic attacks Tadej Pogacar. Assuming Miguel Ángel López wins and takes the accompanying 10-second time bonus, this pair will now fight over 6sec and 4sec bonuses for second and third.
2.5km to go
With the road pitching up to horrific gradients of well over 20 per cent, Miguel Ángel López drops Sepp Kuss as he comes out of the wall-like corner.
2.8km to go
Sepp Kuss rides his team-mate off his wheel! Miguel Ángel López takes advantage, riding beyond the American while further back Primoz Roglic, Tadej Pogacar and Richie Porte ride elbow-to-elbow.
3km to go
Richard Carapaz is caught.
3.1km to go
Sepp Kuss rises out of his saddle, shifting towards the front, maillot jaune and team-mate Primoz Roglic tucked in behind. Richard Carapaz's lead is dropping.
3.3km to go
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) attacks, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) follows just ahead of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and team-mate Sepp Kuss.
3.5km to go
Mikel Landa has fallen out of the back of the group, which begs the question: what was the point of that huge, huge effort from Bahrain-McLaren? Presumably the Basque believed he had the legs to do something here today, but clearly he did not. Either way, at least his team-mates gave it a crack which, I guess, must be applauded.
4km to go
Long seated efforts from Richard Carapaz, before he rises out of the saddle in the corner where the road pitches up, but he is looking comfortable. A lovely pedal stroke, looking really smooth with a decent cadence. Not too sure what gearing he is using, but imagine it is something that most mountain bikers would be familiar with.
4.3km to go
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) leads by 45sec.
4.5km to go
Primoz Roglic has two Jumbo-Visma team-mates — Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss — for company. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) is looking around, potentially considering a move. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) rises out of his saddle, tucked in behind Roglic and Kuss.
5km to go
Richard Carapaz gains another few seconds, his lead now 45sec.
6km to go
Richard Carapaz is benefiting from the waiting game that is playing out back in the bunch. The Ineos Grenadiers rider's lead grows slightly to 30sec and he's looking really comfortable. He, too, is a rider born in the high mountains and so will not struggle as much at high altitude as his European rivals.
6.5km to go
Pello Bilbao peels off the front, leaving Damiano Caruso on the front for Mikel Landa. Richard Carapaz holds on out in front, leading the stage by 24sec. A lot of watching, waiting and heavy breathing in the dwindling bunch.
8km to go
Bahrain-McLaren continue to do serious damage to this group. Just 16 riders remain in the posse of riders that includes all of the general classification contenders — Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling), Miguel Ángel López (Astana), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Enric Mas (Movistar) and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma).
9km to go — Carapaz leads the stage
Richard Carapaz rides Gorka Izagirre off his wheel, the 2019 Giro d'Italia champion leads the stage by 20sec.
9.5km to go
George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) is dropped. Big surprise that. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) is also dropped, leaving team-mate Richie Porte isolated and all on his lonesome; Guillaume Martin (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) is struggling.
10km to go
Pello Bilbao leads the main group, team-mates Damiano Caruso and Mikel Landa on the Basque's wheel. There are a lot of riders suffering, but who can hold on all the way, and who will have the legs once the road goes high into double digits in six or seven kilometres time?
11km to go
Bahrain-McLaren continue to set a fearsome pace on the front. Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) who currently fills the third place berth on general classification, is sat near the back of the group with his jersey undone, suggesting he is feeling the heat here.
11.5km to go
Wout Poels, Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Omar Fraile (Astana), Robert Gesink are all dropped. Richard Carapaz and Gorka Izagirre's advantage is slashed to 40sec.
12.5km to go — and then there were two
Julian Alaphilippe has popped, leaving Richard Carapaz and Gorka Izagirre to duke this out on the front. Two combativity awards in a row for the Ineos Grenadiers rider? I almost guarantee Team Sky / Ineos have never managed that before. Crumbs of comfort and all that . . .
13.5km to go
Carlos Verona is shelled, leaving just one Movistar team-mate — Alejandro Valverde — on hand to help their general classification leader Enric Mas who has been largeley invisible sine the Tour set out from Nice over two weeks ago.
14km to go
Bahrain-McLaren have four riders on the front of the maillot jaune's group, followed by six Jumbo-Visma and then two UAE Team Emirates riders, including the challenger Tadej Pogacar, Movistar, EF Pro Cycling, Trek-Segfredo all follow.
15km to go
Leading trio's advantage drops to 1min 45sec.
16km to go
Wout Poels, Damiano Caruso dnd Pello Bilbao sit ahead of team-mate Mikel Landa on the front, Jumbo-Visma are in their wheels. The summit is shrouded in cloud, but as yet to rad is dry. Julian Alaphilippe, Richard Carapaz and Gorka Izagirre hold on to their lead, though it has dropped by a smidge to below two minutes.
18km to go
Matej Mohoric peels over to the side of the road, his legs well and truly roasted having dragged the Bahrain-McLaren-powered peloton along for some time. As it stands, Jumbo-Visma are continuing to get a free ride from Mikel Landa's team.
Tadej Pogacar, who started the day in second place 40sec behind Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has just one UAE Team Emirates team-mate — Jan Polanc — for company, but the young Slovenian is looking fairly calm. Roglic, by contrast, has a swarm of riders dressed in black and yellow buzzing around, guiding and shepherding him up the early parts of this brutal looking climb.
20km to go
Richard Carapaz rises out of his saddle as the Ecuadoran passes beneath the 20km to go marker ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and Gorka Izagirre. The trio's advantage on the bunch at around two minutes.
Here we go . . .
The maillot jaune's group is on the final climb. Dan Martin is dropped, as is world champion Mads Pederesen (Trek-Segafredo).
21km to go
Matej Mohoric pulls on the front ahead of four Bahrain-McLaren team-mates. Surely with all the work done on the front today, Mikel Landa is plotting to launch something on this final climb? He certainly has the ability to bury himself on this sort of terrain, but is he able to shake off the likes of Colombians Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) once the road goes high and above 2,000 metres in sea level? Once that high and the air thins out, one would imagine the conditions would suit the Colombians.
25.5km to go
Col de la Loze is a different type of monster, with many changes in gradients, up to 24% in the final km of the ascent@Mark_Renshaw explains how specific an effort this is and what to expect on Stage 17 of #TDF2020 #TDFdata | @GlobalNTT pic.twitter.com/VDqjbk0RHJ
— letourdata (@letourdata) September 16, 2020
The leading trio are holding on, but can the hold of the pack?
27.5km to go
The forthcoming ascent of the col de la Loze which tops out at 2,304 metres above sea level will be the 11th highest mountain the Tour de France has ever cycled over, the others being: the Bonette, Iseran, col d’Agnel, Galibier, col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, Granon, Port d’Envalira, Izoard, col de la Lombarde and the col de la Cayolle. As the highest in this year's race, there's an additional €5,000 prize for the winner of the stage and the Souvenir Henri Desgranges.
32km to go
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) is over 10 minutes down on stage leaders Julian Alaphilippe, Richard Carapaz and Gorka Izagirre, while the Jumbo-Visma group has been whittled down to around 33 riders. The remaining riders that started the stage in the top 10 of the general classification — Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling), Miguel Ángel López (Astana), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren), Enric Mas (Movistar) and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) — all feature.
35km to go
Julian Alaphilippe, Richard Carapaz and Gorka Izagirre add a further 10sec into the peloton on this descent, while Dan Martin is about to be caught by the bunch.
44km to go
The three-man break leads by 2min 35sec, having gained a minute on the descent.
45km to go
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Gorka Izagirre (Astana) catch Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) midway down the Madeleine where the road plateaus, before dropping further towards a valley that riders to the bottom of the final climb of the day.
50km to go
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) splits the breakaway once over the summit of the Madeleine and onto the descent. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) is the first to be dropped, while Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Gorka Izagirre (Astana) are unable to hold the wheel of the Frenchman who is a fearless descender. However, the advantage of 1min 50sec on the Bahrain-McLaren-powered peloton may not be big enough, not with the upcoming 21.1km drag up towards col de la Loze.
Have to feel for @DanMartin86 that was magnificently strong today, climbing so well with the breakaway to the top of the Madeleine, just to lose his dream for victory- on the 25 km’s steep descent. 😂#TDF2020 @LeTour pic.twitter.com/vSwCAZSLHz
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@YallaIsraelSUN) September 16, 2020
Pogacar — king of the hill
60km to go
Richard Carapaz crests the summit to earn himself 20 points in the mountains classification and, I think, that has propelled him to sixth in the virtual standings. Tadej Pogacar clips off the front of the peloton to add eight points to his tally and become the leader in the mountains which makes sense seeing as he has, for me, been the best climber in this year's race. Longish descent to follow, before the decisive climb of the day up the largely unknown col de la Loze.
63km to go
Wout van Aert, once again, is pulling for Jumbo-Visma up near the summit of the Madeleine which is 2,000 metres above sea level. Not a bad effort for a rider that has won two sprints at this year's race. He's having an absolutely out-of-this-world Tour de France.
64.5km to go
The four-man break passes the 2km to go marker to the summit of the Madeleine, two minutes dead ahead of the peloton. Bahrain-McLaren continue to lead on the front, Jumbo-Visma tucked in.
Bahrain-McLaren: 'We've got plans'
Speaking earlier, Bahrain-McLaren team principal Rod Ellingworth said they were planning to light up this stage.
“Obviously, we're not going to just follow," Ellingworth is reported as saying on the Tour de France's website. “We've come here to . . . the objective is to make the podium, so we still feel, despite our time loss on stage seven, that we can still achieve that. So I think there are obviously three critical stages now. I don't think it's just about today, certainly the guys are up for it, and Mikel's feeling good today. And excited to race. I'm not sure it'll be the final decisive day, but it'll certainly mix things up today. We've got plans. At the end of the day, if Visma have that dominance of just riding like they are, then it's really tough. They've got a super strong team, so fair play to them. They've assembled a great team and they're doing a great performance so far. But the guys aren't just going to sit there and wait. I think they're going to try something.”
67km to go
Bahrain-McLaren pull on the front, 2min 30sec adrift of what is now a four-man break after Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) is dropped.
Not too sure what's wrong with him, but Mitchelton-Scott climber Mikel Nieve has packed. That's the first grand tour the Basque has abandoned in 19 starts. In fact, Nieve has not quit a stage race since 2016 when he failed to complete the Tour de Romandie.
Nieve's departure will come as a blow to team-mate Adam Yates who stands a decent chance of breaking into the top three in the general classification, along with another handful of riders — Miguel Ángel López (Astana), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Enric Mas (Movistar).
Benoît Cosnefroy blows up halfway up the Madeleine. The Frenchman, surely, will be saying au revoir to his polka-dot jersey this afternoon.
72.5km to go
Wout Poels replaces Sonny Colbrelli on the front of the peloton; Benoît Cosnefroy is struggling off the back. Mikel Landa is out of his saddle, jersey unzipped, but is the Basque rider going to free himself and attack at some point today? Landa may be out of contention for the yellow jersey, but he will be thinking of either stage win or a first podium finish at a grand tour.
💪 @BahrainMcLaren is setting an incredibly high pace in the bunch. Still 10 km before the Col de la Madeleine.
💪 @BahrainMcLaren imprime un rythme très élevé dans le peloton. Il reste encore 10 km avant le passage au Col de la Madeleine.#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/JnBiu8hY3M
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) September 16, 2020
73.5km to go
Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) presses on, Gorka Izagirre (Astana) bounces off the back of the breakaway before clawing his way back on. Almost four minutes down the road, Sonny Colbrelli keeps pulling on the front for Bahrain-McLaren, the Italian staking a claim for the Wout van Aert award of the day.
75km to go
Quite remarkably, the Italian sprinter Sonny Colbrelli is back on the front for Bahrain-McLaren. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) has been dropped, the Colombian crashed heavily last Friday and has struggled since. Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) is also dropped.
176km to go
The injection in pace on the front of the maillot jaune's group whittle down the advantage held by the five-man group. Sonny Colbrelli peels off having done a solid turn on the front, that lead down to 4min 25sec. The pace being set by Bahrain-McLaren will shed some riders, but are they simply doing the work of Jumbo-Visma here?
77.5km to go
Interesting. The team of Mikel Landa, who stated the day in seventh place on general classification, have moved to the front. Bahrain-McLaren have four riders— including sprinter Sonny Colbrelli — on the front. Trek-Segafredo sit off their right shoulder. The breakaway's lead drops to just above 5min.
78km to go
Jumbo-Visma and the rest of the peloton hit the climb where it appears to be blowing a bit of a gale, though thankfully for the sprinters that will struggle over this hors catégorie drag, it is a tailwind.
79.5km to go
The five-man breakaway — Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) — is on the col de la Madeleine.
80km to go
Other than Tony Martin replacing Amund Grondahl Jansen on the front for Jumbo-Visma, very little has changed on the road other than the breakaway's advantage grows out to 6min. Not too far from the start of the col de la Madeleine.
85km to go
Jumbo-Visma has all eight of its riders sat on the front of the peloton. Amund Grondahl Jansen is pulling on the front, sharing the work with three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin. trucked in behind is Robert Gesink, George Bennett, Tom Dumoulin, Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss and, of course, race leader Primoz Roglic.
90km to go
The leading quintet increases its advantage to 5min 27sec.
Storm clouds rising . . .
Meteo France is forecasting some nasty looking weather atop the col de la Loze this afternoon. Those that watched the Vuelta a España last year will recall that a certain Tadej Pogacar went fairly well in the bad weather; equally so did Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) who won his first grand tour a year ago yesterday. What does it all mean?
Wiggins: 'Bernal has many years ahead of him'
Speaking with Eurosport and GCN earlier, 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins said he believed Egan Bernal's departure from the race is not the end of the world for the Colombian, though he did — once again — question the selection process of the British squad for this year's race.
“It just shows you fragile things can be in this sport. Last year, the winner of the Tour and tipped for big things, potentially winning the next five, six, seven Tour de Frances. A year on, he’s having to abandon the Tour de France. It’s not the end for him, he’s only 23 and he’s got many, many years ahead of him.
“It does raise the question now of course whether Ineos made the right selection in this Tour de France, leaving our Geraint Thomas and the four-time winner Chris Froome. What will happen for Ineos now? Much like yesterday, they will deploy the tactic of putting someone in the break and [will] try to chase stages, it’s all they’ve got left in this race.”
105km to go
Jumbo-Visma continue to monitor the pace on the front of the peloton, allowing the five-man breakaway no more than 4min 45sec.
110km to go
The five-man break leads the stage by 4min 30sec.
Bennett tightens grip on green
Sam Bennett extends his lead in the points classification. In all likelihood, that will mean Bora-Hansgrohe will be dismantling the kitchen sink from their team bus on Thursday night, preparing themselves to launch it in the direction of Bennett and his Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mates during Friday's rolling stage.
124.6km to go
An unchallenged Julian Alaphilippe takes 20 points at the intermediate sprint. A shade over three minutes later Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate Sam Bennett gains two points more than Peter Sagan to extend his lead in the race for the green jersey. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) appears to have given up the chase.
128km to go
Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-Quick Step have riders on the front of the bunch as the riders fan out across the width of the road to stop any further attacks off the front. This is an ideal situation for Sam Bennett who will most likely not lose any points to Peter Sagan in the upcoming intermediate sprint — in a one-on-one sprint the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider is much stronger than Sagan.
132km to go
Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) attacks off the front of the peloton. The South African may prove to be a useful ally to team-mate Adam Yates, Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve later on this afternoon should he bridge over to the leading pack. Jumbo-Visma are now on the front of the peloton, guessing they are now thinking about slowing things down a little, keeping their powder dry for later this afternoon.
135km to go
It has been yet another fast start to today's stage, the leading riders having clocked an average speed of 48kmh in the opening 45min.
140km to go
After a group of around 20 riders formed at the head of the race, five — Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) — create a split on a short sharp little kicker. The five-man group lead by 25sec.
145km to go
A strong group including Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) bridges over to Thomas De Gendt.
150km to go
Thomas De Gendt's advantage grows to 25sec. The Belgian keeps looking over his shoulder, perhaps hoping for company.
153km to go
Here we go, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) goes off the front and the breakaway specialist gains over 10sec on the peloton.
155km to go
Peter Sagan regains contact with the rear of the peloton, while on the front Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is looking lively. Daniel Oss, Sagan's loyal lieutenant, is sat on the front of the bunch monitoring any moves, no doubt also making sure the pace is not too high as his team-mate works his way up.
157km to go
Peter Sagan is back in the cars, not too sure what is up with the seven-time winner of the green jersey — possibly a mechanical issue — but he loses contact with the front of the group. Matteo Trentin, who started the day third in the points classification, puts in an attack, but it soon peters out.
158km to go
Cees Bol (Sunweb) is off the front, though not entirely sure why.
160km to go
A very lively start to the stage, Daniel Martínez and Esteban Chaves are looking lively, but as it stands the peloton is all as one, albeit fairly strung out due to the rapid start to this stage.
Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) is the lone leader, the Dutchman pokes his nose into the wind, but a there's a flurry of activity not too far behind as the sprinters — well, those thinking about the green jersey — and the riders thinking about getting into a breakaway jockey for position.
168km to go
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) and Krists Neilands (Israel Start-up Nation) clip off the front from the flag, the trio gain a handful of seconds on the peloton, but they are not being allowed off the leash. Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quick Step and CCC all looking poised to chase.
And they're off!
And this, the stage that many are calling the queen stage at this year's race, is on.
So, what's on the menu today?
In a similar vein to Sunday's stage, today appears to be another race of two halves: the first hour or so will most likely be animated by those focusing on the green jersey — Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Matteo Trentin (CCC) — before the mountain goats take command.
The intermediate sprint in La Rochette comes after just 45.5km of racing where there will be twenty points of offer for the first rider over the line. With the stage finishing atop the hors catégorie col de la Loze, today is not a stage weighted in the favour of the fastmen and so there are just 20 points available on the line. Here's a breakdown of what is up for grabs in what has become a fascinating battle for the green jersey.
Featuring two huge hors catégorie climbs — the col de la Madeleine and a new one for the Tour, the col de la Loze — I think we can expect to see a new leader in the mountains classification later on this afternoon. As the highest point in this year's race, topping out at 2,304 metres above sea level, there are double points on offer atop the col de la Loze and so unless Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) somehow manages to finish with the stage leaders — Benoît Cosnefroy will not finish with the stage leaders — then the Frenchman will be handing over his polka-dot jersey today.
Once beyond the intermediate sprint, I wouldn't be surprised if a breakaway clipped off after the heavier fastmen eased up, before the stage really lights up. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) will be keen non adding some more points to his account in the mountains classification, but does he have the legs to take him all the way to the final climb? The 33-year-old has been very lively over the past few stages, and is not quite at the level of the real big hitters, and so I think once Rolland goes over the col de la Madeleine, his day will most likely be done.
Don't be surprised if EF Pro Cycling put two or three riders — Hugh Carthy, Daniel Martínez and Neilson Powless — in the break, while Mitchelton-Scott may fancy their chances with Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve. Ineos Grenadiers, surely, will also get involved? That said, there will be an awful lot of other that will ' fancy their chances', but will they be able to get into the breakaway should one form and if so, will the have the legs to finish it of on the final climb of the day?
So, will today's stage be won by a breakaway rider? If so they will need a decent lead by the time it reaches the bottom of the final climb of the day. The final kilometres of the col de la Loze will be contested on what has been described as a cycle path and so it is very narrow, meaning positioning will be absolutely key. Get stuck behind somebody who has a mechanical or a crash and that's it, your Tour de France hopes could be over. Also, the gradients are insanely steep. Very un-Tour de France like, with pitches reaching 24% in places and long stretches at over 11% this really is terrain for those with an explosive edge. Someone like Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Anyway, enough of this idle speculation, racing starts in 10 minutes.
As it stands . . .
Those familiar with the race, or stage racing in general, will realise that there are a number of jerseys on offer at the race, here's a very quick explainer for anybody that is new to the sport . . .
And here are the current leaders in the respective competitions . . .
But if you want to take a closer look at the details, here you go . . .
And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 17 at the 107th edition of the Tour de France, the 168-kilometre run from Grenoble to Méribel. Before we have a look at today's stage, let's have a recap of what happened yesterday. First up, here's Tom Cary's report in which Sir Dave Brailsford defends Ineos' tactics and team selection at the Tour . . .
Various theories have been put forward for Ineos’s struggles at this Tour, and Brailsford addressed them one by one. On the selection controversy, specifically the decision to leave out former winners Froome and Thomas, and instead bring in Ecuadorean Richard Carapaz, he was unequivocal.
“I don’t gamble,” Brailsford said. “People are entitled to their opinions, but I didn’t gamble with selection. They were big decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I’m sure that people have a lot to say but they’re not privy to the facts that I’ve got."
Meanwhile, our colleagues at The Cycling Podcast published their latest episode on Tuesday night. While we are waiting for today's stage to get under way, why don't you give it a listen?
In this episode of The Cycling Podcast, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and François Thomazeau are in a bustling square in Grenoble.
They recap a stage to Villard-de-Lans which was won by the Bora-Hansgrohe rider Lennard Kamna, who succeeded where he and his teammate failed last week when they were outfought by Dani Martinez.
We hear from Team Ineos Grenadiers boss Dave Brailsford about how they are recalibrating after defending champion Egan Bernal faltered at the weekend.
And from Rod Ellingworth, enjoying his first Tour as the big boss of Bahrain-McLaren and hoping Mikel Landa can still make a run for the podium.