Méribel (France) (AFP)
Advantage to Primoz Roglic over Tadej Pogacar: the expected match between the Slovenes turned in favor of the yellow jersey in the 17th stage of the Tour de France, won by the Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, on Wednesday, in the majestic site of the alpine pass of the Loze .
At an altitude of 2304 meters, the highest point of this 107th Tour, Roglic left Pogacar 15 seconds behind, in a knife-edge final on vertiginous slopes.
"It was completely crazy at the end!" Exclaimed the wearer of the yellow jersey, more favorite of the race than ever.
"We are happy when we get to the top. The last 4 kilometers were hell!"
In the provisional general classification, Roglic increased his lead over Pogacar from 40 to 57 seconds, bonus included, four days from the conclusion in Paris.
"We dream of this kind of days but we can not predict it", welcomed the winner of the day, Miguel Angel Lopez, who reached third place in the standings, nearly a minute and a half behind Roglic .
Under the eyes of President Emmanuel Macron, who attended the final in François Lemarchand's car, the riders arrived one by one at the end of this unprecedented climb, on the tarmac track since last year which links Courchevel to Méribel (Savoie ).
Lopez, who started in the front for the last 3 kilometers, preceded Roglic by 15 seconds.
But, for the Slovenian who left Pogacar behind in the last 1,700 meters, the main thing was to get ahead of his younger brother.
- The resistance of Carapaz -
Everything turned out as expected in the interminable final ascent, 21.5 kilometers long and extremely steep in its final part above the Méribel resort.
Julian Alaphilippe, Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Spaniard Gorka Izagirre, the three survivors of the breakaway launched in the first half hour, were successively joined in this climb.
They had gone to the top of the Madeleine (Km 107.5), the first ascent classified as out of category of the day, with a lead limited to one and a half minutes on the first peloton led by the teammates of the Spaniard Mikel Landa and strong 'about thirty units.
Landa's Bahrain continued the effort at the top of this group to Méribel, which had the effect of allowing Roglic's Jumbo to save themselves and stay in the wheels.
Carapaz, the last to resist, held out for a long time.
The winner of the last Giro even increased his advantage less than 5 kilometers from the finish.
But he ended up stumbling over the succession of small bends with very severe percentages and was passed 3 kilometers from the finish, following an acceleration by Miguel Angel Lopez accompanied by Roglic's last lieutenant, the American Sepp Kuss.
- The "premiere" of Superman Lopez -
The Colombian, who is nicknamed "Superman" in his country, took away his first stage success in the Tour which he discovered this season at the age of 26.
The leader of the Astana team, led by the Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov, has already climbed the podium of the Giro and the Vuelta (3rd each time).
For Colombia, which recorded its second success since the start after that of Daniel Martinez at Puy Mary in the 13th stage, the day had started much worse: Egan Bernal, the outgoing winner, left the Tour before the departure from Grenoble , at the request of his Ineos team who intends to take care of it.
Defaulting last Sunday in the Grand Colombier, he fell in the standings to 16th place, nearly 20 minutes from the yellow jersey.
Thursday, the last day in the Alps includes three classics (Cormet de Roselend, Saisies, Aravis) and a very rarely used and very steep climb, to reach the Plateau des Glières, in the 18th stage, 175 kilometers long between Méribel and La Roche -on-Foron.
© 2020 AFP