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Date: Wednesday, July 19
Start: La Mure
Distance: 183km (113.7mi)
Entering the Alps in the final week of the Tour, riders are set for a tough battle in stage 17 with the infamous Col du Galibier used for the first time in the Tour since 2011. It’s a course sure to put the peloton at their limit and shake up the general classification with only a few stages left for major changes to happen. The stage will also use the tough passes of the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Télégraphe, both before the Galibier which makes it one of the toughest stages of this year’s route. With only one mountain stage left after this before the Stage 20 time trial, the likes of Fabio Aru (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) will all want to use this day to gain as much time over Chris Froome (Sky) as possible. Expect Team Sky’s dominance to be tested as attacks will fly from the general classification favourites in a bid to overturn the small deficit needed to take yellow. Regardless of the outcome, the stunning scenery and beautiful climbs will make this a stage to watch.
Christian Prudhomme, race director: “Climbers battling it out for the maillot jaune will have two more days to express themselves, to change the outcome or comfort a decent lead and gain precious time. Heading towards Serre-Chevalier, we will give them the most prestigious of what the Alps has to offer: the Col de la Croix de Fer and then the Galibier back after a 6-year absence, going up the Télégraphe. It’s now up to them.”
Chris Froome (Team Sky): “I believe these next two days are the biggest consecutive days in this year’s Tour de France. It’s hard to say exactly how selective they will be, or whether it will be a case of the four of us who are all within half a minute just chasing each other’s shadows. Or it could be blown wide open – that still remains to be seen. But on the upside I think both myself and Mikel Landa are feeling great coming into this last week of the race. Certainly for me that was the goal for of my preparations for the Tour – to come into the third week feeling the way I’m feeling now. I’m quite looking forward these next few days in the Alps now.”