TDF 2013: Stage 17: After Time Trial, Contador No. 2

Chris Froome was first in the time trial and now still first in the Tour de France. (C) Jen Benepe

Prunieres, France–July 17, 2013–By Jen Benepe, (c) All photos, Jen Benepe copyright, all rights reserved.

Spanish rider Alberto Contador who lost so much time on Mont Ventoux last Sunday has taken second position in the Tour after besting Bauke Mollema in the individual time trail.

Chris Froome ran a magnificent race from Embrun to Chorges, riding a mountainous and often wet course that rose, then fell, then rose again to a steep, winding descent to come in first.

This is the Brit’s first victory in a time trial at the Tour de France, his third stage win in 2013 and the fourth of his career.

With 1.2 km to go, Mollema overshot a sweeping right turn and hit the barriers hard but did not fall to the ground. He had to stop and reclip into the pedals before moving again. He would finish the stage in 11th place and drop from second to fourth overall.

The Dutchman is now 6 minutes and 23 seconds behind the Tour leader, Froome. Though he was riding faster than Froome at the first check points, Contador lost a little bit of his advantage, and is now 4 minutes and 34 seconds back.  His teammate at Saxo-Tinkoff, Roman Kreuziger, is now in third position.

Bauke Mollema being photographed on top of the second mountain, before his fall near the end of the stage. (C) Jen Benepe

Still it was one of the most beautiful and complex time trials the Tour has had in recent years.

Running over two mountains, fans enjoyed the backdrops of the Serre-Poncon lake, and above it the white-crested mountain peaks. The mountains facing the time trial course are the most famous and favorite among French in the region.

Later in the day a major storm kicked up, with gusting winds and rain–thankfully after the riders had all finished.

Froome won with a time of 51 minutes 33 seconds, followed by Contador who was 9 seconds back. Joaquin Rodriguez of the Katusha team was third with 51 minutes, 43 seconds.

Contador swapped out his road bike for a time trial bike just before the 20 km mark of the 32km stage. Many other riders used road bikes on the course which was closer to a timed climb than a typical time trial. But perhaps that swap caused him to lose too many seconds against Froome.

Alberto Contador near the top of the second mountain, already in his descent. He’s smiling because there were tremendous cheers all around when he went by. (C) Jen Benepe

Many of the riders could be seen practicing the course first thing in the morning. One of the French favorites, Jean Cristophe Peraud of the AGR2 Mondiale Team, who was in ninth place overall at the start of the stage, crashed earlier in the day during a training run and broke his clavicle. When he appeared on the race course later, tremendous cheers went up from the crowd lining the roadway.

The Frenchman was 21st best at the 20km mark but, with 2 km to go in the stage, he had another terrible crash and abandoned the Tour. He had been in ninth place overall.

At first Lieuwe Westra (VCD) held the best time at each check – finishing in 54’02”. The first to beat Westra’s time was Jon Izaguirre who covered the course at an average speed of 35.6km/h, beating Westra by 4” on the same day that his brother, Gorka, was a non-starter.

American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was fourth best at 6.5 km, 1st at 20km and 1st at the end of the stage in 53’24” (35.9km/h).

Roman Kreuziger, a teammate of Contador’s in the Saxo-Tinkoff team, is now in third position overall. (c) Jen Benepe.

Then came the rain, which came down in buckets, spoiling the course for most of the riders who came after 3 PM, but before the course had dried—-which it did by the time the top six or seven riders had started.

Alejandro Valverde was the first to beat Thomas de Gendt’s time (by 16”) and the Spaniard was 59” ahead of van Garderen at the second check, averaging 30.9km/h for the first 20 km.

Overall individual time classification

Total distance covered: 2768 KM

1. GBRFROOME Christopher 1 SKY PROCYCLING 66h 07′ 09”
2. ESPCONTADOR Alberto 91 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 66h 11′ 43” + 04′ 34”
3. CZEKREUZIGER Roman 94 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 66h 12′ 00” + 04′ 51”
4. NEDMOLLEMA Bauke 164 BELKIN PRO CYCLING 66h 13′ 32” + 06′ 23”
5. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 128 MOVISTAR TEAM 66h 14′ 07” + 06′ 58”
6. ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 101 KATUSHA TEAM 66h 14′ 30” + 07′ 21”
7. NEDTEN DAM Laurens 167 BELKIN PRO CYCLING 66h 15′ 32” + 08′ 23”
8. DENFUGLSANG Jakob 63 ASTANA PRO TEAM 66h 16′ 05” + 08′ 56”
9. POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal 153 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 66h 18′ 19” + 11′ 10”
10. IRLMARTIN Daniel 175 GARMIN – SHARP 66h 19′ 59” + 12′ 50”
11. AUSROGERS Michael 98 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 66h 20′ 28” + 13′ 19”
12. ESPVALVERDE Alejandro 121 MOVISTAR TEAM 66h 22′ 21” + 15′ 12”
13. USATALANSKY Andrew 178 GARMIN – SHARP 66h 22′ 22” + 15′ 13”
14. ESPNAVARRO Daniel 139 COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 66h 23′ 52” + 16′ 43”
15. BELMONFORT Maxime 47 RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 66h 24′ 13” + 17′ 04”
16. LUXSCHLECK Andy 41 RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 66h 30′ 43” + 23′ 34”
17. ESPNIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel 116 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 66h 30′ 45” + 23′ 36”
18. AUSEVANS Cadel 31 BMC RACING TEAM 66h 31′ 53” + 24′ 44”
19. ESPMORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel 106 KATUSHA TEAM 66h 34′ 44” + 27′ 35”
20. FRABARDET Romain 82 AG2R LA MONDIALE 66h 35′ 52” + 28′ 43”
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