Gall wins Tour de France stage 17 as Vingegaard extends overall lead after Pogacar cracks

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Gall wins Tour de France stage 17 as Vingegaard extends overall lead after Pogacar cracks
Updated
Felix Gall rose up the general classification after winning stage 17 to Courchevel
Felix Gall rose up the general classification after winning stage 17 to Courchevel
Reuters
Austrian Felix Gall (25) of AG2R-Citroen won the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a 165.7 km trek from Saint Gervais as Jonas Vingegaard (26) made a giant stride towards a second consecutive Tour de France title when crash-hit rival Tadej Pogacar cracked in the toughest stage of the race on Wednesday.

A day after crushing Pogacar in the individual time trial, Vingegaard went solo some five kilometres from the top of the Col de la Loze (28.1km at 6%) and did not look back despite being slowed down by an organisers' car and a race motorbike.

He could not catch stage winner Gall, who attacked from the breakaway 6.4km from the top to move up to eighth overall, but his fourth place at the end was more than enough for Vingegaard to prepare to celebrate in Paris on Sunday.

What was a 10-second gap two days ago is now an unbridgeable 7:35 gap after Pogacar huffed and puffed over the line more than five minutes behind Jumbo-Visma leader Vingegaard.

"I'm relieved to have more than seven minutes but we're not in Paris yet, there's some tricky stages left, still," said Vingegaard.

Just at the top of the brutal hill where the finish line was drawn, Pogacar might have seen Vingegaard's domestique Tiesj Benoot (29) clinching his fist in celebration, before leaning on his bike surrounded by a team helper and two teammates.

His white jersey zipped wide open, 2020 and 2021 Tour winner Pogacar suffered a spectacular failure 8.5km from the summit of the Col de la Loze, struggling to hold the wheel of UAE Emirates teammate Marc Soler (29).

"It was the day, when the route was announced, that we said was going to be our day, the day when we wanted to put the Tour upside down and make it really hard," Jumbo-Visma sports director Griescha Niermann told reporters.

"That did happen, although we did not think it would happen this way. Jonas won the Tour today, I think, barring bad luck."

Bad luck could have struck in the Col de la Loze, when a race motorbike stalled amid massive crowds, forcing an organisers' car to come to a halt and another race motorbike to go on the side of the road.

Vingegaard slowed down and zig-zagged through to continue his demolition work until the line, which he crossed with a big smile on his face.

"We were blocked by motorbikes, they were almost falling on us," France's Thibaut Pinot (33), 12th overall, said.

"Some motorbikes probably stalled. Also why do they let cars pass us when the gap between the groups of riders is just 15 seconds?"

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