It’s all downhill for Tour rookie
Speeding downhill at 75kmh on unprotected Alpine roads, Tour de France rookie Primoz Roglic scaled the race’s highest peak and then barrelled down the other side while holding off the competition on the famed Galibier climb to win stage 17.
As he did, Chris Froome consolidated his overall lead as Fabio Aru lost touch with the three-time champion’s group on the punishing gradients of the Galibier yesterday.
And Australia’s Michael Matthews took the green sprinter’s jersey as Germany’s Marcel Kittel crashed and abandoned the tour.
Froome finished 1minute 13secs behind Roglic, Kiwi George Bennett’s team-mate, in a group with Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet, who climbed to second and third overall, 27 seconds behind Froome as Aru dropped from second to fourth.
Determined not to give any ground, Froome outsprinted Bardet to the finish line, securing four bonus seconds for placing third on the stage. Uran was quicker still, beating Froome to get six bonus seconds for second place.
Aru couldn’t keep up with Froome’s group on the Galibier, falling behind after the bursts of acceleration from Bardet and Irish rider Dan Martin.
Mouth open, the Sicilian repeatedly laboured his way back to the group until a final burst of speed toward the top from Bardet dropped Aru for good.
Bardet said he was hoping to leave Froome behind, too.
‘‘I did my utmost,’’ Bardet said. ‘‘I attacked. That’s the way I love to race. I have no regrets. I tried everything.’’
Bardet, Froome, Uran, French rider Warren Barguil and Mikel Landa zoomed down the long descent from the top together, never slowing, to prevent Aru from catching them. Aru is now 53 seconds behind Froome overall.
‘‘It was a big day of climbing,’’ Froome said. ‘‘My legs certainly felt a lot better than a week ago in the Pyrenees, which is a good sign.’’