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Tour de France Stage 17 Preview

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July 19, 2016 – If Nairo Quintana is going to have a chance of winning this 103rd Tour de France (#TDF2016) he and his Movistar will have to pull off a move on Wednesday like they did last year on the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez.

#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

That day, Movistar put Quintana confidant Winner Ancona in an early breakaway so that when his team leader attacked and dropped race leader Chris Froome on the climb to the finish, the two Colombians teamed up. Ancona led Quintana (this image) for a few kilometers before his team leader sped away and crossed the line 1:20 ahead of Froome.

The mountaintop finish on Wednesday’s stage 17 is in Switzerland, next to the remote Emosson hydroelectric dam at an elevation of 6,500 feet (almost 2,000 meters) above the village of Finhaut. Froome will have his Sky teammates riding tempo on the 184.5-kilometer stage from Bern, but he’ll have to be wary if one or more of his rivals gets into a breakaway before the final hour of racing, which includes 23.4 kilometers of climbing.

The only time a pro race has finished at Finhaut-Emosson was in 2014 at the Critérium du Dauphiné, when Froome lost his race leader’s jersey to Alberto Contador, who attacked to gain 20 seconds in the final kilometer, which has double-digit grades. Among those who finished behind Froome that day two years ago were current top-10 riders at the Tour: Romain Bardet, Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Tejay van Garderen.

That experience could well help them decide their tactics this Wednesday. Besides the Movistar squad of Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, the best-equipped to pull off a surprise result is the Astana team of Fabio Aru, who has five potential helpers on the final two climbs: Jakob Fuglsang, Tanel Kangert, Vincenzo Nibali, Diego Rosa and Luis León Sanchez.

Follow @pelotonmagazine for more #pelotonshorts from John Wilcockson.
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