Tour de France 2012 stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) moved one step closer to Paris after he successfully saw off the final stage in the Pyrenees with a third place finish behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Valverde, back from a two-year doping suspension which ended at the start of the year, was the sole remnant of the day’s break and narrowly held on to his lead on the final climb to Peyragudes as Wiggins and team-mate Chris Froome were in hot pursuit.

Behind the pair the remaining favourites including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) lost further time and barring catastrophe Sky now look to have secured the top two places on the podium with two flat stages and a time trial remaining.

Yet on a day that promised aggression from Sky’s rivals, we were left with intrigue and possibility from the final few kilometres of the climb as once again Froome looked stronger than leader Wiggins.

Once the pair had broken free from Jurgen Vandenbroeck (Lotto-Belisol) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat), with Valverde 30 seconds up the road, Froome could been seen urging and cajoling Wiggins onwards.

Froome remained with Wiggins, either at the behest of the yellow jersey or through team orders, and led his leader to the line less than 20 seconds behind the stage winner.

Whether Froome could have won the stage, how much time he could have gained on Wiggins, and what he was saying to his leader, remain unknown.

Meanwhile it was an opportunity lost for Nibali whose Liquigas team did much of the work on the front of the peloton during the day. Their leader’s strength failed when it most mattered, as Sky upped the pace on the final climb, and with it went his hopes of knocking Froome off second spot.

Misty mountains

In sharp contrast to yesterday’s scorcher, the Pyrenees returned to their mist-shrouded and mysterious character on the last of the days in the mountains for the peloton.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) both made the early break and fought tooth and nail for the points in the King of the Mountains classification, the Frenchman coming out on top over the first three climbs of the day to extend his lead.

The anticipated downhill attack from Nibali and Liquigas never came and it took until the final ascent of the Col du Peyresourde and Peyragudes for the action to really come to the boil.

With Valverde the last remaining escapee 90 seconds up the road, Wiggins and Froome began to wind the pace with 10 kilometres remaining, unusually short on their team-mates who have so often accompanied them on the Tour’s uphill challenges.

They parted the crowds to Peyragudes and emerged alone with 2.7km to go, from where none could stay with them.

Wiggins thanked a united team after the stage for their sacrifices in helping him reach the run in to Paris with yellow on his shoulders.

Yet the ramifications of the scale of that sacfirice, in particular from Froome, could lead to an interesting final few days for Wiggins and Sky.

Results

Tour de France 2012, stage seventeen: Bagneres-de-Luchon – Peyragudes, 143.5km

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 4-12-11


2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 19 secs

3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky s.t.

4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 22 secs

5. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 26 secs

6. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol s.t.

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 37 secs

8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 54 secs

9. Chris Horner (USA) Radioshack-Nissan at 1-02

10. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1-11

Overall classification after stage seventeen

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 78h 28-02

2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 2-05

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2-41

4. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 5-53

5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 8-30

6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 9-57

7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan at 10-11

8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 10-17

9. Janez Brajokovic (Slo) Astana at 11-00

10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 11-46



Thomas Voeckler aggressively defended his lead in the King of the Mountains competition





Bradley Wiggins





Chris Froome leads as Bradley Wiggins thinks of Paris





Alejandro Valverde wins

Tour de France 2012: Latest news



Wiggins’ Tour de France training


Voigt tries to carry on as RadioShack’s future seems in doubt



Frank Schleck positive for banned substance at Tour



Rest day review (July 17)



Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees



Sprinters’ teams unwilling to work on stage 15



Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack



Froome not winning this year’s Tour is ‘very great sacrifice’



Frank Schleck criticises ‘boring’ Tour de France



Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list



Tour 2012: Who will win?



Tour de France 2012 start list and withdrawals



Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 16: Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagneres de Luchon

Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton

Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour

Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage

Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last

Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour

Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT

Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks

Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage

Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage

Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades

Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes

Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne

Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory

Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt

Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs



Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles



Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials



CW’s Tour de France podcasts



Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs



Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries



Stage 16 by Graham Watson



Stage 15 by Graham Watson



Stage 14 by Graham Watson



Stage 13 by Graham Watson



Stage 12 by Graham Watson



Stage 11 by Graham Watson



Stage 10 by Graham Watson



Stage nine by Graham Watson



Stage eight by Graham Watson



Stage seven by Graham Watson



Stage six by Graham Watson



Stage five by Graham Watson



Stage four by Graham Watson



Stage three by Graham Watson



Stage two by Andy Jones



Stage two by Graham Watson



Stage one by Graham Watson



Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones



Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler



Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson



Tour de France 2012: Team presentation



Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage



Stage 10 live coverage



Stage nine live coverage



Stage six live coverage



Stage five live coverage



Stage four live coverage



Stage three live coverage



Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish



Brief history of the Tour de France



Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever

 

  • Mark Jones

    Get over it, the British medias obsession with belittling Wiggins’ success is getting very tiresome as is Phil Liggett’s anti-Wiggins pro-anythingUS commentary. I have always liked Liggett but his commentary is getting worse year on year and it’s time he retired now and we got a commentary for British television without the hundreds of references to the AmGen Tour of California or Lance Armstrong or how well Chris Horner is doing in this last week.

    Team Sky had an objective and that was to win the Tour. Brad has already won Paris-Nice, Romandie and the Dauphine this year and is sitting comfortably in yellow as he has for nearly two weeks. Froome showed no sign of form coming into the Tour and has not had the pressure of all the formalities that go with the yellow jersey. Wiggins has the respect of a team who have worked for him all season but we don’t know whether Froome is such a great leader. Give Froome a free reign without Wiggins to guide him and he may go balls out one stage and then lose big team the next day like he has in the past. We have not seen Froome take all the pressure and resume a lead in his own right yet and until then I don’t think we can say how good he is. Had Froome been in yellow then just like last year’s Vuelta we wouldn’t have been hearing about a British winner but an African winner with a British passport. Yes it’s funny how, according to Liggett, Froome is an African and yet Birmingham-born and British raised Dan Martin is Irish.

    Let’s be very un-British now and enjoy what has been achieved here by Team Sky. Okay it hasn’t been the greatest tour ever, but that was to be expected from the start and the biggest disappointment has been Cadel’s loss of form in the last week to remove any reasonable challenge. So congratulations to Wiggins and Team Sky for getting so far in yellow and hopefully he will win the Time Trial on Saturday and then lead out Cav on Sunday for the ITV1 audience (yes, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it – it shows what has been achieved here). But unfortunately we do love a loser in Britain and Andy Murray is lauded for his final defeat at Wimbledon whereas as for Wiggins, well according to the media he should have done more.

  • Max

    What’s all this nonsense about ‘sacrifice? Each rider in the team has a job to do and he get’s paid for it. Perhaps Froome could have won this Tour, but could he have done it in a different team? Let’s not forget that he is where he is partly to his own ability and also partly due to his position in Sky. And are you suggesting that he should pull a fast one and try and win this Tour? Remember Benoni Beheyt, who beat his leader Rik van Looy in the 1963 World Championships and hardly ever rode anything afterwards.

  • roginoz

    great stuff …valverde(green val}vindicated….voeckler and froome great to watch (and vino) ….as wiggins prob relaxing a BIT tomorrow before the time trial, he could have been less robotic and put on an attack-show at the end. before we had lead-out trains (thanks cipo) and boring leaders –indurain ,evans ,wiggins –we had character and balls , from armstrong , riis , fignon hinault ,merkcx etc etc they are the ones that will be remembered .

  • Callum J Cross

    THE reason that Froome wasn’t allowed to attack is because he has a job to do … deliver Bradley Wiggins into Paris in Yellow. He will do that no questions asked and i for one am fed up of people saying he should be leader, he has a good talent yes, but his time will come, maybe even next year. Don’t forget he has only shone recently and who knows if that’s something magical like incredible form for a couple years or if he is the real deal. Im sure he could have won this years tour but he will have many to come. So give the SKY team a break, all i ever see is people slagging them off because Wiggo is leader.

    Kind Regards

    Callum J Cross

  • Jeff

    Brilliant riding by Bradley and Chris. Dominating the tour on a classic Pyrenean stage. Very well done to both of you.

  • Robbie S

    We can’t have too much sympathy with Froome. He must have known this would be the case immediately following the Vuelta last year, but he was quite happy to take the vast sums on offer to him from Sky. He had 2/3 offers from other teams, albeit lower financial rewards but with team leader status. Getting Brad to Paris in Yellow in 2012 has been an objective for Sky since he crashed last year – and Froome would have known this when signing his deal. I reckon Froome will lead next year at Sky – Brad will be happy with his one tour victory and appreciate Froome has deserved his chance next year.