Edvald Boasson Hagen took his and Team Sky’s second stage win of this year’s Tour de France in Pinerolo this afternoon, but race leader Thomas Voeckler conceded more time in the overall standings.
Boasson Hagen was in the main break of the day and made his bid for glory towards the top of the final climb, the Cote de Pramartino, and managed to stay upright on the fast 8km run in to the finish.
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Behind, Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez tried breaking clear on the descent, but were caught by the Schleck brothers and Cadel Evans within the final kilometre.
However Voeckler, who nearly fell on the early part of the downhill, ran wide and was unable to rejoin the favourites.
The maillot jaune, along with Ivan Basso, lost 27 seconds to their GC rivals.
Afternoon delight for Eddie Bos
Boasson Hagen won stage six into Lisieux, and was outsprinted by Thor Hushovd twenty-four hours ago.
Unsurprisingly, he was
pleased to take his second Tour stage as the race crossed the Italian border this afternoon.
“It was a really great day today,” he said at the finish. “I was disappointed yesterday not to win win.”
“I tried to get in the break again and the team did a great job to get me in it.
“It took a long time to happen but finally we went away. I felt great the whole day and got some extra power because I wanted to win and also from the fans on course,” he added.
Escape group battles for glory
Boasson Hagen was one of 14 riders who escaped early on in the 179km stage.
Initially instigated by Sandy Casar (FDJ), Ruben Perez (Euskatel), Bauke Mollema, Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Dmitriy Muravyev (RadioShack), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Maciej Paterski (Liquigas), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Julien El Fares (Cofidis), Borut Bozic, Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) also made it across.
Their lead was consistent, although never soared above nine minutes as Casar was in the top 25 overall at the start of the day.
Behind, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) and his team-mates were happy to let the break go, particularly that left just one point for the peloton to compete for at the intermediate sprint at Villar-Saint-Pancrace, which Cavendish duly took.
The green jersey leader made it up the second category climb of the Col de Montgenevre and the harder ascent up to Sestrieres, and was only shelled out in the final 20km.
He made it to the finish safely, and barring a hiccup, should keep the points competition lead to Paris.
Euskatel blink first
Ahead, Perez jumped out of the leading group half-way up the climb of Sestrieres, and quickly amassed a 1-30 gap on the 13 chasers.
It looked good for the Spaniard until he got to the final climb, the Pramartino, which began with 16km remaining.
His lead had been whittled down to just 30 seconds, and a flurry of attacks from those behind meant he was soon within sight. Once caught, Chavanel was the first to put in a big dig, before Boasson Hagen followed and soon passed the Frenchman.
At the top of the climb, the Sky rider had a solid gap over his nearest chasers, who were now Hivert and Mollema.
Hivert ran wide early on the descent, but his efforts to stay upright didn’t count for much as he fell just a handful of corners later.
Rabobank’s Mollema ploughed on, but never looked like catching the lone leader. He eventually took second.
Contador goes again
After his time gains yesterday, Alberto Contador tested the Schleck brothers once again, attacking twice on the ascent.
Both moves were followed, although only Samuel Sanchez could stay with him when the Spaniard broke clear on the descent.
Voeckler ran wide on one corner and then overshot a left-hander, and was forced to head down someone’s driveway to stay upright. Hivert, just minutes before, also had to take this escape road to prevent falling off again.
Boasson Hagen crossed the line, arms aloft and pointing to his sponsor’s logo, but the real interest was behind.
The Schlecks and Evans were chasing down Contador and Sanchez, Basso was in another group behind and Voeckler after him.
As the Spanish duo rounded the final bend onto the finishing straight, the Schleck group caught up with them – you could almost hear the relief from the brothers and the Australian.
Voeckler once again ensured his losses were minimal, but any talk of him holding on to Paris must surely be over, considering what lies ahead before the race finishes on Sunday.
Tour de France 2011 stage 17; Gap-Pinerolo, 179km
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky in 4-18-00
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 40 sec
3. Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ at 50 sec
4. Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step all at st
6. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana at 1-10
7. Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas
8. Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) RadioShack
9. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
10. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM all at st.
70. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 12-36
154. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 14-15
165. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo
166. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad all at st.
General classification after stage 17
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar in 73-23-49
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-18
3. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 1-22
4. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-39.
5. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) Euskatel-Euskedi at 2-59
6. Alberto Contador (Esp) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 3-15
7. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 3-34
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3-49
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin Cervelo at 6-04
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky at 7-36
41. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 43-43
65. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-14-10
124. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad 2-10-00
132. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 2-14-23
Geraint Thomas was in an early escape group
Europcar head the bunch
Cadel Evans attacks the contenders group
Thomas Voeckler and Jelle Vanendert
Edvald Boasson Hagen takes his second 2011 Tour stage win
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage 16: Evans and Contador go on the attack as Hushovd wins in Gap
Stage 15: Cavendish takes fourth stage win in 2011 Tour
Stage 14: Vanendert surprises the favourites as Voeckler holds on
Stage 13: World champ Hushovd takes well deserved solo Tour win
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Stage 11: Cavendish moves into green after winning in Lavaur
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Stage nine: Sanchez conquers day of crashes and climbs
Stage eight: Costa wins first mountain stage of 2011 Tour
Stage seven: Cavendish wins but Wiggins crashes out of Tour
Stage six: Boasson Hagen takes Sky’s first Tour de France win
Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel
Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne
Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
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