Etixx - Quick-Step rider Rigoberto Uran earned a 3rd place stage finish at the end of 161km Tour de France Stage 17 on Wednesday, putting himself into position for the podium thanks to impressive descending of Category 1 Col d'Allos (14km, 5.5) prior to the Category 2 finishing climb of Pra-Loup (6.2km, 6.5%).
Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) won the stage solo after attacking out an original 28-rider breakaway, 32" ahead of Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and 1'01" ahead of the Colombian rider of Etixx - Quick-Step. Uran is now 27th in the general classification.
As for the GC contenders, despite several attacks from Nairo Quintana (Movistar), he and race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished together across the line. However, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) who was 3rd overall going into the stage, was forced to withdraw due to a headache that left him unable to maintain contact early in the race. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) also lost time due to crashing on the last descent of the stage. Quintana is now 2nd, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is 3rd overall.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to another difficult day in the Alps on Wednesday. Stage 18 features seven categorized climbs, including HC Col du Glandon (21km, 5.1%) with a summit at the 147km mark of 186.5 kilometers in total. There could also be fireworks on Category 2 Lacets de Montvernier (3.4km, 8.2%) which summits at the 176.5km point. Montvernier isn't just steep; There are 18 hairpin turns on the final categorized climb of the day. The finish is slightly uphill.
"The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway," Uran said. "I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn't easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late. Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I'm happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won't be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days."
UCI World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski withdrew from the race after falling into severe difficulty along the parcours.
"It's sad for me to leave a special race like Le Tour de France," Michal Kwiatkowski said. "Everyone knows how much I like this grand tour. Today I wanted to enter in a breakaway. I jumped a few times at the beginning together with Rigoberto Uran, but then suddenly I felt empty. I lost contact from the group on the first climb. I fought, hoping to recover, and maybe I could feel better along the parcours, but the situation didn't change. I hung on until the intermediate sprint, but then I decided to stop. There wasn't anything left in the tank. It's a difficult moment for me. You never want to stop in a race like this, especially when you have this rainbow jersey on your shoulders. My teammates were great these last couple of weeks in how they supported me. I want to thank them. We had great time together and we achieved great results together. Now I have to recover, and then start thinking about the next race on my calendar. I want to thank all the people on the roads that cheered for me. I wish all the best to my teammates, hoping they can get another victory before the end of Le Tour."