Miguel Angel “Superman” Lopez claimed the queen stage of the 107th Tour of France atop the grueling and spectacular col de la Loze after he overhauled his old arch-rival Richard Carapaz who had tried his luck from a long way away.
The battle of the Slovenians for the overall victory confirmed Primoz Roglic in the yellow jersey as he crossed the line in second place with a significant advantage over Tadej Pogacar who is the new King of the Mountains.
From Grenoble, this 170km stage featured two categorie climbs with summits about 2,000 metres, that would have suited an on-form Egan Bernal, but the day began with news that the defending champion had withdrawn from the race after shipping 18 minutes in two days as a result of a back injury.
152 riders started stage 17 in Grenoble. Defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) were non-starters. It was another fast start with many skirmishes. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) was first to open a gap at km 16. A front group of 25 riders was composed at km 24.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) came out of this group at km 30. They rode above 50km/h on the flat roads and reached a maximum advantage of six minutes just before climbing to col de la Madeleine.
As the gradients at the top of the 21-kilometre climb hit 24 per cent, the Colombian Lopez was able to ride away from the other contenders for a stage win that moves him up to third overall.
Lopez now sits third, one minute and 26 seconds down, after Rigoberto Uran faded late on. “I’m very emotional,” Astana’s Lopez said. “We dreamed about it, we did it. I’m thinking about my family.”
Carapaz went alone on the final climb, briefly stretching his advantage as the contenders weighed each other up, but he was caught with 3km to go as the attacks began in sight of the steepest sections. Lopez struck out for glory soon after Carapaz had been passed, but all eyes were on the battle between the two Slovenians slugging it out for yellow.