Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) took a solo victory on stage 17 of the 2019 Tour de France, breaking clear from the day’s main breakaway group with 14km remaining.
The Italian looked strongest of the huge 33-man breakaway that escaped early on the 200km stage, attacking the remaining riders at the front on the final category three climb.
He quickly put in a gap of over 30 seconds to the chasers behind, cresting the final climb alone and holding off Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) on the descent and on the run-in to the finish.
Trentin was able to sit up and celebrate the victory with time to spare, sealing Mitchelton-Scott’s fourth stage win of the race. It’s Trentin’s third stage victory at the Tour de France, adding to four stages in the Vuelta a España and one in the Giro d’Italia.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) secured the yellow jersey for another day as the peloton cruised in behind the breakaway at over 20 minutes behind.
How it happened
The 200km stage 17 of the 2019 Tour de France would be the last chance for many riders to take a potential stage win.
The profile of the route starting from the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct to Gap looked ideal for a breakaway to succeed with a category three climb close to the finish.
As expected, the stage began with a fight for the breakaway, however it wasn’t too long at all before a 33-man group escaped with no riders involved a threat to the GC.
The big names among the break included Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
Initially they were only able to get up to two minutes advantage in the first 40km despite the GC teams having no interest in chasing them down.
However the only non-GC teams without a rider in the break, Total Direct Energie and Arkéa-Samsic, were driving the pace in the peloton to try and peg the breakaway back enough to allow one of their riders to go across.
With around 45km gone and the average speed well above 50kmh, Total Direct Energie finally gave up the chase and the peloton slowed to allow the break to jump quickly up to over eight minutes ahead.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step then took up the responsibility of policing the front of the peloton, with breakaway working together to continue to grow their advantage.
With 40km to go and relatively little action, the breakaway now sat at almost 15 minutes ahead of the bunch, working their way to the final climb of the Côte de la Sentinelle where the attacks would surely begin.
However a number of riders weren’t happy to get to the climb in such a big group with riders starting to roll off the front inside the final 35km. After numerous moves eventually an 11-man group was able to detach itself.
The riders in that group included Van Avermaet and Trentin, as well as Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Tom Scully (EF Education First), Vegard Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Ben King (Dimension Data), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis).
European champion Trentin clearly still felt the group, which had 30 seconds advantage, was too big to drag to the climb, with the Italian attacking to whittle it down, with Gougeard the first to drop off.
The front group continued at a serious pace that eventually began to thin them out. Just seven men remained at the front – Trentin, Van Avermaet, Izagirre, Asgreen, Skujiņš, Périchon and Oss – before Trentin broke clear on the climb with 14km to go.
He was pursued by Périchon, but opened up a substantial gap of 30 seconds to try and solo to a stage victory.
Trentin looked like he was assured victory even before he crested the top of the climb, with Kasper Asgreen making a late charge to try and catch him.
In the end there was nothing the Dane could do to haul him back, and Trentin cruised the victory with Asgreen rolling in 37 seconds behind.
Greg Van Avermaet won the sprint for third, with the remaining breakaway riders rolling to the line in fragmented groups.
The GC contenders finished safely in the peloton after taking it easy through the day, with no movements from any of the main favourites.
The Tour de France heads back to the mountains on stage 18, with the peloton set to take on a gruelling stage over the Col de Vars, Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier before the finish in Valliore.
Tour de France 2019, stage 17: Pont du Gard to Gap (200km)
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, in 4-21-36
2. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 37s
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team, at 41s
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
6. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Astana
7. Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time
8. Pierre Luc Périchon (Fre) Cofidis, at 50s
9. Toms Skujiņš (Lat) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
10. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 55s
General classification after stage 17
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 69-39-16
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos, at 1-35
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-47
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-50
5. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos, at 2-02
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-14
7. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 4-54
8. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 5-00
9. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education First, at 5-33
10. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 6-30