This article originally appeared on VeloNews.com
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) won stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France on the steep slopes of the Col de la Loze.
The Colombian known as “Superman” rode into third place in the general classification in the final 5km of the queen stage, on the steep slopes of the Col de la Loze.
“I’m really happy with today’s stage win. I have a lot of emotions right now. We’ve worked a lot and it’s been very difficult to get here. It’s a very special day for me. I’ve worked a lot at home with my family. It’s been difficult,” said a teary Lopez at the finish.
This is López’s Tour debut.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who stuck to the back end of the Jumbo-Visma train until the final 2km commented that, “It was one of the first times we’ve been at altitude. Tough day, but I hung around for as long as I could, I can be happy with that. Once we got in the last 7km section, no one didn’t know what to expect. It was every man for himself. I hung on for as long as I could.”
How It Happened
The first news of the day was 2019 Tour winner Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) withdrew from the Tour overnight, but that was quickly forgotten in the day’s action on the slopes of the Alps, while French President Emmanuel Macron followed the front of the race, along with a healthy Christian Prudhomme, in a lead caravan vehicle.
Bahrain McLaren drove the yellow jersey group for most of the first half of the stage, to try to get Mikel Landa into contention for a podium position.
On the ascent of the Col de la Madeliene, the polka dot jersey of Benoit Cosnefroy was dropped from the main group. He surrenders the KOM lead to Tadej Pogacar.
Since Pogacar wears the white jersey of the best young rider, the polka dots honor falls to the shoulders of the stage-winner López.
Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) abandoned at 73km to go in stage, leaving teammate Yates to freelance for himself at the front of the race.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) lead a break of four including Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Gorka Izaguirre (Astana), and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), to the summit of the Madeliene to get 2:35 on yellow jersey group, and then tried to distance himself on the descent.
Carapaz and López were able to follow the French favorite — who was awarded the most combative rider of the day — while Martin was quickly shed on the descent.
Chasing in the yellow jersey group was Primož Roglič, Tom Dumoulin, George Bennett, Robert Gesink, Sepp Kuss, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mikel Landa, Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso, Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Rigoberto Urán, Hugh Carthy (EF Education First), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde, Nelson Oliveira, Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Richie Porte, Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Tadej Pogačar, David de la Cruz, Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Miguel Ángel López, Omar Fraile (Astana Pro Team), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).
Jumbo-Visma took over lead duties from Bahrain-McLaren with 900m to go to the top of Col de la Madeleine, as riders were getting a feed from their teams’ soigneurs.
The four-man break dropped from a maximum of six minutes to just 90 seconds by the top of the Col de la Madeleine.
Carapaz attacked at 13km to go, and Izaguirre grabbed his wheel, however Alaphilippe could not handle this pace, and was shed from the lead, with the gap down to 48 seconds to the yellow jersey.
Going into the final climb up the Col de la Loze, Porte, Urán, and López were all with the yellow jersey group.
Carapaz, looking for a stage win, continued to lead the climb and dropped Izaguirre with a little more than 4km remaining.
David de la Cruz — who had been protecting Pogačar — peeled off the front, as Carapaz is brought back by the yellow jersey group.
Seeing opportunity, López attacked at 2,400m remaining and the American Sepp Kuss grabbed a ride on the Colombian’s wheel. The two get eight seconds on the Roglič group.
As this gap continued to expand, Kuss sat up to wait for his team-leader and the yellow jersey of Roglič.
It was apparent that Roglič wanted the time bonus available for the top three finishers on the stage.
After the stage, Kuss told reporters, “We expected a team to ride today either for the stage or to get on the podium. Bahrain rode a super-strong pace, but this last climb was a total leg breaker. I was right at the front and I accelerated over the top of one of the transitions but all of a sudden López came across. I tried to stay with him but he was really strong. When I knew I was over the limit I backed off and tried to pace Primož a little bit.”
Several times in the final 1,500m it looked like López might crack and be caught by the yellow and white jerseys, however, he was able to maintain his gap and took the stage win.
“I never gave up. It wasn’t easy. It was hard, but I knew this was a big opportunity. Today was on my favored terrain at altitude. The team did a great job to keep me in a good position. We deserve this victory. This is my job, but I remember a lot my family, my children. It’s very moving to win a stage at the Tour de France. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” López said.
As Roglič sought to defend his overall lead — and also to get a time bonus — he attacked Pogačar in the final 500m, on the 24 percent gradient road to the finish line.
But in the final 200m, the younger of the two Slovenians who are leading the Tour de France cracked, and ceded nearly 15 seconds — but still maintained his second place in the general classification.
Imagery ©Kristof Ramon
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