2017 Tour de France: Stage 17 live race updates, blog

225 Have your say

    Romain Bardet is among the favourites on Stage 17 of the Tour de France. (Team Sky)

    The Tour de France enters the final days, with Stage 17 the first of those coming in the alps. Four big climbs await the peloton, including the highest point of the race, with Chris Froome looking to hang onto yellow. Join The Roar for live coverage and updates from 8:10pm (AEST).

    The famous Col du Galibier, last climbed in 2011, headlines today’s route. The mammoth climb, peaking at 2,642 metres above sea level and rising for 17.7km at seven per cent has had some of the more famous battles in Tour history.

    The 2011 race saw Andy Schleck win the stage while Australia’s Cadel Evans famously dragged everyone up the mountain to effectively win the Tour ahead of the following day’s time trial.

    It’s a climb with history, tradition and, when you think of the Tour, it’s one of the main climbs that come to mind. Think the Alpe d’Huez, the Mont Ventoux and the Galibier.

    Anyway, focus back on today’s stage. The peloton will roll out of La Mure at just after midday local time, with 176.5km separating them and the finish in Serre Chevalier.

    The first 15 kilometres are more or less flat, before the first Category 2 climb of the day hits – being the Col d’Ornon – which is 5.1 kilometres at a 6.7 per cent gradient.

    Ordinarily, this would have no bearing on the race, but watch for Sunweb to set a high tempo and try to get Michael Matthews into the breakaway. He is now only 29 points behind Marcel Kittel’s green jersey, so another 20 at the intermediate sprint could prove crucial in the race for green.

    Once the intermediate sprint is reached 47.5 kilometres into the stage at Allemont, it’ll be onto the Col de la Croix de Fer, which in itself is a beast of a climb. Standing 2,067 metres above sea level, it’s an irregular climb that will burn the legs and suit attackers.

    It’s a long way from the finish line, but with three plateaus and descents on the climb, there is room for attacking.

    After that, it’ll be a descent to the base of the Col du Telegraphe, so often used as a launching pad for the neighbouring Alpe d’Huez. It’s a Category 1 climb, ranking 11.9 kilometres at 7.1 per cent.

    The testing part about this is that the descent over the top lasts for approximately five kilometres before the riders line up for the Galibier.

    It’s a succession of climbs that make the legs sore just thinking about it, and the sprinters might struggle to make the time cut today.

    The General Classification battle is close as well and it’s going to make for some enthralling racing. Chris Froome might be holding yellow, but he has been vulnerable in the mountains, and there are three riders within half a minute.

    Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran trail by 18, 23 and 29 seconds respectively, with Mikel Landa – Froome’s teammate – in fifth at 1:17. Landa could be a key man for Froome, launching a one-two punch, but it’s never been a go-to move for Sky. Bardet and Aru will be pushing their teams to make the race explode on the Telegraph, setting up an every man for himself situation on the Galibier.

    It then comes down to a 21-kilometre race downhill to the finish line.

    Prediction
    It’s an incredibly tough stage to call. The breakaway should pick up the stage victory, and I’d expect another change at the top, with Bardet using his descending skills to drive home an advantage and slip into yellow.

    Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Stage 17 from 8:10pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment below.

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.