Tour de France: Chris Froome extends lead as Ilnur Zakarin wins
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 21/07/16 1:04pm
Chris Froome took another huge step towards Tour de France victory by dropping all of his closest rivals on a mountainous 17th stage won by breakaway rider Ilnur Zakarin.
Froome (Team Sky) attacked out of a heavily reduced peloton with about 1.5km left to the summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson and crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange), 28 seconds in front of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and 40 seconds up on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
The result sees him stretch his lead at the top of the general classification to 2min 27sec over second-placed Mollema and 2min 53sec over third-placed Yates, while Quintana is now 3min 27sec down in fourth.
The only rider able to match Froome on the 10.4km final ascent was Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who attacked with about 2km to go but was later caught by the race leader and crossed the line at the same time.
Yates can also be pleased with the result, after producing another excellent display to close his gap to Mollema to just 26 seconds.
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Having initially been dropped by Froome, the 23-year-old Briton left behind a group containing Quintana and Fabio Aru (Astana) with a counter-attack inside the final 1km and might have caught Froome and Porte had he not run out of road.
Zakarin (Katusha), meanwhile, formed part of a 14-man breakaway but moved into a lone lead with an attack 6km from the finish and hung on to beat Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) into second place by 55 seconds and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) into third by 1min 26sec.
Zakarin, who is from Russia and served a two-year ban after testing positive for steroids in 2009, said: "I did my best today and I am very happy now. This result for me is not a surprise because I try [hard] in the first week."
Stage 17 was the first of four back-to-back days in the Alps and ended with the 13km climb of the Col de la Forclaz and then an super-category final climb to Finhaut-Emosson in Switzerland.
Froome sympathy for Quintana
Chris Froome has sympathised with Nairo Quintana after the Colombian lost more time on stage 17
The peloton was thinned down to about 40 riders on the Forclaz in temperatures reaching into the mid-30s and was then cut by half again when Aru's Astana set a fierce pace on the last ascent.
It looked certain that Aru would launch an attack but he didn't, and when Dan Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had moves snuffed out by Team Sky, it was left to Porte to blow the group of favourites apart with his acceleration about 2km out.
Froome waited 500m before launching a counter-attack and although Quintana initially followed, he left him trailing with a second surge a couple of hundred metres later and then swiftly caught up to Porte.
Quintana subsequently formed part of the chase group, but he was distanced again when Yates attacked and drew responses from Aru and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
The Tour continues on Thursday with a 17km individual time trial from Sallanches to Megeve. Find out more about the route in our race guide and follow the stage with our live blog from 12pm BST.
Stage 17 result
1 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, 4:36:33
2 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling, +55sec
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff, +1:26
4 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida, +1:32
5 Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, +2:33
6 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie, +2:46
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:50
8 Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling, +2:57
9 Steve Morabito (Sui) FDJ.fr, +4:38
10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, +7:59
11 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, same time
12 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +8:07
16 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +8:27
18 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +8:39
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +2:27
3 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +2:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +3:27
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +4:15
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, +4:27
7 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +5:19
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +5:35
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, +5:50
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida, +6:07
Yates eyes gains in TT
Adam Yates is optimistic of strengthening his position on the Tour de France podium on stage 18