Matteo Trentin is victorious
When a 33-man group escaped up the road, Matteo Trentin’s (Mitchelton-Scott) name stood out as one of the likely winners of the stage. However, few would have expected him to win in the manner in which he did.
As probably the quickest sprinter in the group, his obvious tactic would have been to mark the other riders, and to try and win from a sprint. But the Italian instead decided to take things into his own hands with an attack as the crucial climb of the Col de la Sentinelle approached.
He caught his breakaway companions off guard, as no-one managed to latch onto his lead, and a decisive gap was opened up. After summiting the climb with his lead still intact, all he had to do was descend to the finish, which he did assuredly to win the stage.
The win was a demonstration of Trentin’s remarkable versatility. Already at the Tour de France 2019 he has notched up six top-10 finishes in sprints, as well as playing a key role in team-mate Simon Yates’s victory on stage 12 with an attack on a category one climb.
A somewhat under-appreciated rider, this is the third Tour de France stage victory of his career, and his eighth in all Grand Tours - but the first he has ever won from a solo breakaway.
Mitchelton-Soctt win from the break yet again
The team’s plan A of leading a yellow jersey challenge with Adam Yates may have faltered, but Mitchelton-Scott’s Tour de France has nevertheless been a resounding success.
Trentin’s victory today is, remarkably, the team’s fourth at this Tour, with each coming from a breakaway.
First Daryl Impey used his vast experience to outsmart and outride a large group that got away at the start of stage nine, then Simon Yates doubled up with some outstanding climbing in the Pyrenees to win stages 12 and 15, and now Trentin surprised
To win from breakaways requires tactical nous, as doing so often means not necessarily being the strongest riders, but the smartest. Whether it’s the riders themselves calling the shots, or a brain’s trust working behind the scenes lead by Matt White, Mitchelton-Scott deserve credit for intelligent racing.
Multiple teams miss chance for first stage win
Most of the success at this Tour de France has been greedily shared around between an elite few teams.
Following Trentin’s win today, fourteen of the seventeen stages so far have been won by either a Mitchelton-Scott, Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Lotto-Soudal or Jumbo-Visma rider, with Bora-Hansgrohe, Groupama-FDJ and Bahrain-Merida the only teams with one stage win each.
That leaves the other fifteen teams winless and desperate to take something from this Tour, a state of mind that was reflected in the huge number of riders eager to get into the break today.
Some of the worse-off teams were among the most well-represented in the 33-man group. UAE Team Emirates, whose GC hopes for Dan Martin have also gone up in smoke, boasted four riders; Astana placed three riders in the break, looking to bounce back from Jakob Fuglsang’s abandonment the day before; and CCC, EF-Education First and Dimension Data all had to riders each, hoping to bring to life their teams’ hitherto inert race.
However, all of them were scuppered as Mitchelton-Scott once again triumphed for their fourth stage win, this time courtesy of Matteo Trentin.
With only three Alpine stages left plus the finale in Paris, where only the top climbers and sprinters respectively will be capable of winning, time is rapidly running out for these teams to salvage something from this race.
Kasper Asgreen impresses after being let off the leash
One of the most familiar sights at this Tour de France has been that of Kasper Asgreen riding at the front of the peloton.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step have used their talented young Dane as a workhorse throughout the race, first during the early stages when keep breakaways in check for star sprinter Elia Viviani, then to control things for yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe.
Even at the tender age of just 24, Asgreen has however proven he has much more to give than just playing the role of domestique, as made clear by his exceptional performances at the Tour of Flanders, Tour of California and Tour de Suisse.
Stage 17 was his first chance at the Tour to ride for himself, as Deceuninck - Quick-Step relieved him of his usual duties
Though he mostly played a defensive role of covering moves, once he made a move and put his nose to wind, we saw the same Asgreen that has impressed so much earlier in the season. He attacked near the summit of the Col de la Sentinelle, setting off in pursuit of Trentin and the poursuivant Pierre-Luc Perichon (Cofidis).
Although he caught Perichon, his attack proved too late to challenge Trentin, but it was still an eye-catching ride and impressive second place finish that further confirms his great potential
No action in the peloton
With three huge back-to-back Alpine stages to come, day 17 was always likely to be one of energy preservation rather than action among the GC favourites, and indeed the presence of category three climb and fast descent to the finish was not enough to tempt anyone to make an attack.
The peloton eventually rolled in over twenty minutes behind the winner Trentin, having been happy to let the break - which included no-one remotely dangerous on the GC - build a huge lead.
The weather was also perhaps instrumental in determining the uneventful way the day panned out, with searing temperatures - with the occasional relief of a downpour - further deterring any surprise attacks.
There was one moment of note when a bad-tempered Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) shoved into Luke Rowe on the approach to the climb, but this was dismissed as a negligible racing incident by Rowe’s team leader Geraint Thomas at the line.
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