Bauke Mollema finishes in 4th, Toms Skujins 9th, as Trek-Segafredo vies for victory in stage 17
It was hot. Again. And the peloton cooled its heels as best it could in Stage 17 at the Tour de France with three days in the mountains ahead, allowing the breakaway to be the main attraction.
When 33 men went clear in the early part of the 200-kilometer race, Trek-Segafredo had Jasper Stuyven, Toms Skujins, and Bauke Mollema in the large group. They were ready to play! And when the lead ballooned to over 15 minutes as the peloton put it in cruise control behind, it was clear the winner would come from the breakaway.
The team had put in their best cards, but the extreme heat and 17 stages into the Tour would have the last word.
As expected, the attacking began from the leading group in the final 30 kilometers until finally 11 riders, including Toms Skujins, eventually scooted up the road a few kilometers ahead of a five-kilometer climb. The paring down had begun.
No one was able to follow Matteo Trentin’s attack out of this group at the bottom of the ascent and the Mitchelton-Scott rider held his advantage over the next 14 kilometers to take their team’s fourth victory of the Tour.
Behind, the original 33-rider breakaway arrived in fragments – the scorching temperature adding to tired legs in the third week of racing – to fight out the minor places.
It was very hot and very tough. I think I went through 20 bottles, dumping a lot on my head, legs, all over. We had a good group with three of us there in the breakaway so we could actually play some tactics and go for the win, but Trentin was just too strong today.
- Toms Skujins
The first chase group crossed the line 41 seconds later with Bauke Mollema sprinting to fourth, and Toms Skujins arriving with the next wave to grab ninth. Jasper Stuyven, who has placed in the top 10 eight times this Tour, finished with another group for 18th – another top result will have to wait until Paris.
Despite grabbing the opportunity in the breakaway and giving their best effort, it would be two in the top 10 for Trek-Segafredo but no win.
I didn't have the legs today; I really suffered from the heat. From the moment they started to go, I didn't have the power I needed today. There were a lot of attacks 15kms before the climb, and in one moment everyone had one in except Lotto (Soudal) and Wanty (Gobert) and they were not going to close it, so then you know it’s over. Behind the climbers tried to bridge up to the front and I knew I was not going to be able to follow those guys.
- Jasper Stuyven
With the next three days in the mountains, the GC battle will once again take center stage. Richie Porte, currently in 10th overall, will look to grab what he can, either moving higher up in the classification or, if tired legs allow, taking a victory that has eluded the team thus far.
I am pretty relaxed. Not exactly where’d I like to be, but I don’t have the pressure on me. We will see how it is tomorrow. I think up and over 2700 meters, that’s really going to hurt, and it’s going to be a big day. I shouldn’t be a marked man, but the problem is getting to the finish line. It’s been a hard Tour and you can see the fatigue in the peloton.
- Richie Porte