GAP, France (REUTERS) – European champion Matteo Trentin won the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a hilly 200km ride from the Pont du Gard on Wednesday (July 24) as his Mitchelton-Scott team celebrated their fourth victory in this year’s race.
The Italian jumped away from a reduced group of breakaway riders at the foot of the last climb and powered clear in the descent to claim his third stage victory on the Tour after previous wins in 2013 and 2014 .
It was another good day for Mitchelton-Scott following on from Simon Yates’ two stage wins and Daryl Impey’s victory on stage nine, which goes some way to make up for Adam Yates’s failure to contest for the overall victory.
The Briton stunningly dropped out of contention in the first high mountain stage, but the Australian outfit have since then bounced back with individual wins.
“This win is worth two wins because after stage 10 to Albi, I thought my chances to win a stage were today,” said Trentin.
“I had stage 12 to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in mind and it went well because my team mate Simon Yates won it from our breakaway group.
“Today was definitely my last possibility before three days that are extremely demanding. My mentality helped me win even more than my legs. I would have never imagined to win solo.”
Thursday’s 18th stage is a 208km mountain trek between Embrun and Valloire featuring three climbs above 2,000m.
On another searing hot day in southern France, the top contenders stayed quiet, finishing in the peloton, just over 20 minutes off the pace behind Trentin, as France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
He leads defending champion Geraint Thomas by 1:35 in the general classification.
Trentin made his move with 14km left and never looked back to beat Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen by 37 seconds and Belgian Greg van Avermaet by 41.
The main bunch rode the end of the stage at a leisurely pace but there was some tension between the top teams as Tony Martin, one of Steven Kruijswijk’s domestiques, appeared to push his way past Thomas’ team mate Luke Rowe.
It prompted Alaphilippe to ask the riders to calm down.
“At some stage today, there was tension in the peloton and I tried to calm the situation. I told the other riders to not take any risks because I was not going to attack,” Alaphilippe told reporters.
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