MERIBEL (France) • Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez won stage 17 of the Tour de France yesterday to climb to third in the overall standings as race leader Primoz Roglic extended his advantage.
The race climbed to 2,304m altitude atop the Col de La Loze where Slovenian rookie Tadej Pogacar lost a handful of seconds to his compatriot Roglic in the race for the yellow jersey on a day defending champion Egan Bernal withdrew.
Richard Carapaz produced a doomed solo bid for Ineos as the Giro champion was caught on the ever-changing gradient of the final 7km above 2,000m as the top 10 experienced a slight shake-up.
A day after the race was cleared of Covid-19 to run all the way to Paris on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron was present as the peloton struggled through villages full of ubiquitous baskets of flowers hanging from Swiss-style ski chalets.
In the rarefied air that suits the men from the Andes, Lopez leapfrogged compatriot Rigoberto Uran and extended his lead over Adam Yates and Richie Porte.
“I’m very emotional about it. We dreamed about it, we did it,” said the 26-year-old after becoming the ninth rider on this year’s race to win his first Tour de France stage.
Lopez, who jumped away from the leading group 3.5km from the finish, crossed the line 15sec ahead of Roglic and 30sec before Pogacar.
Roglic now leads his young compatriot Pogacar by 54sec with just three real races left before the Tour gets to Paris. Lopez is 1min 26sec off the pace, ahead of another gruelling mountain stage today, over 175km between Meribel and La Roche sur Foron.
Bernal’s race effectively ended on Sunday as he fell eight minutes behind the pace.
The 23-year-old Colombian came into the Tour with a back injury and missing key allies. Two of his team then suffered injuries before Bernal himself suffered a meltdown.
“This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances,” he said in a statement from Ineos.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS