Tour de France 2021: riders head for Col du Portet on stage 17 – live!
166km to go: Rolland is still nearly 30sec clear. Behind him there’s a lot of jostling for position, but no actual use of the position that has been jostled for.
172km to go: Rolland is nearly 30sec clear, but the road is flat and straight enough for him to be very clearly in view of the front of the peloton.
175km to go: Pierre Rolland attacks! It’s Bastille Day and there’s a bellicose Frenchman leading the Tour, which is as it should be.
178.4km to go: And they’re off! It looks gently drizzly in Muret as the action begins.
Less than 1km before the start of racing, and Mark Cavendish is riding right behind the car, inches from its rear bumper. Just 113.4km before the intermediate sprint.
The rollout is already under way, with the stage due to start in earnest in just a few minutes.
Today’s is a stage of two (uneven) halves, one of which is long and fairly benign, stretching from the start in Muret to the finish line of the intermediate sprint in Bagnères-de-Luchon, a distance of some 113km.
From then on it turns evil, with what the Tour itself calls “the terrible trio”: two category one climbs, the 13.2km Col de Peyresourde and the 7.4km Col de Val Louron-Azet, followed by the beastly, hors-categorie, 16km at 8.7% Col du Portet:
After none of the GC contenders did anything remotely interesting yesterday, the supposition is that someone must be planning something either for today or tomorrow. As Jeremy Whittle put it at the start of his Stage 16 report:
The reigning Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, is steeling himself for last‑ditch attacks on his race leadership in what may prove to be the toughest day of this year’s race – the 17th stage to the towering summit of the 2,215-metre Col du Portet pass on Wednesday.
Time is running out for those with lingering hopes of victory on the Champs-Élysées. With only two mountain stages and one time trial now remaining, in which any meaningful inroads can be made on the 22-year-old’s five-minute advantage, the race leader is expecting his grip on the yellow jersey to be tested.
Well, fingers very much crossed for that. Here’s what William Fotheringham had to say about the stage in his pre-race stage-by-stage guide:
The first of two mountain-top finishes that should decide the race. There’s a lengthy, flattish preamble where a large break should gain several minutes – in recent years these have involved as many as 30 riders – while the final 50kms includes a daunting trio of passes, culminating in the hardest finish of the Tour, the super-steep 10 miles to the Col de Portet. López, Roglic and Pogacar will be the main men here, and the stage win should go to the best climber out of the break – a rider like Gaudu.
And here’s Jeremy’s report on yesterday’s solo stage success for Patrick Konrad: