Photo Gallery: 2017 Tour de France, Stage 19
After a pair of second-place stage finishes, including one decided by a photo finish, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) finally took a stage win at the 2017 Tour de France on Friday, holding off Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) and further behind, a frantically chasing breakaway which he distanced himself at 2.8km out to ride alone for the victory in Salon-de-Provence. Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) won the sprint from the remnants of the breakaway to take third.
Stage 19 would be the final chance at an open race for the riders in the 2017 Tour de France. Saturday’s time trial in Marseilles, and Sunday’s stage to the Champs-Élysées (customarily a field sprint), meant that Stage 19 was the final opportunity for a group off the front to have a chance at victory.
At kilometer 33, a large group of 20 would finally roll, following an initial move of Stage 8 winner Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro).
Team Sky, controlling the field behind, had stated early their intentions were to let the break go. The highest placed GC rider in the move was Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) at 47 minutes down from yellow jersey Froome. As a result, the breakaway’s margin increased quickly and substantially, their time gap heading straight to seven minutes and hovering between seven and 10 minutes for the majority of their journey to Salon-de-Provence.
The first attack from the large selection of 20 came at 60km to go, but nothing would be successful until 20km from the line when Orica-Scott’s Jens Keukeleire and Michael Albasini took turns with attacks from the front. Their efforts split the group in two, and the final, it appeared, would come down to the front group of ten. Included was Boasson Hagen, Arndt,Albasini and Keukeleire, Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Daniele Bennati (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), and Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro).
The final ten kilometers emulated the flat run-in of a spring classic, with incessant attacks flying up both sides of the road. Heading into a roundabout at 2.8 kilometers from the line, Arndt abruptly cut to the right side of the traffic island on the lead-in. Boasson Hagen followed while the remaining eight stayed to the left side. Accelerating slightly through the roundabout, Arndt and Boasson Hagen had a gap upon exiting. The two men had done their research on the finale of Stage 19, seeing an opportunity for a shorter and therefore faster line through the roundabout.
Boasson Hagen stretched his gap out through the remaining two and a half kilometers and took the win alone. Arndt crossed the line five seconds behind Boasson Hagen, able to hold off the charging breakaway remnants by ten seconds.