Miguel Angel Lopez won stage 17 of the Tour de France at the summit of the Col de la Loze above Meribel as Primoz Roglic distanced Tadej Pogacar in the brutal finale to strengthen his grip on yellow.
As the gradients at the top of the 21-kilometre climb hit 24 per cent, the Colombian Lopez was able to ride away from the other contenders for a stage win that moves him up to third overall.
Roglic followed over the line 15 seconds later with Pogacar losing his wheel in the final metres, conceding a further 15 seconds that see his deficit in second place grow to 57 seconds.
🇨🇴 @SupermanlopezN flies up la Loze! 🏆
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) September 16, 2020
Lopez now sits third, one minute and 26 seconds down, after Rigoberto Uran faded late on.
“I’m very emotional,” Astana’s Lopez said. “We dreamed about it, we did it. I’m thinking about my family.”
The 170km stage from Grenoble, featuring two hors categorie climbs with summits about 2,000 metres, would have suited an on-form Egan Bernal, but the day began with news that the defending champion had withdrawn from the race after shipping 18 minutes in two days as a result of a back injury.
Instead, the Ineos Grenadiers were again active in the breakaway with Richard Carapaz the final survivor of a break which had featured Julian Alaphilippe, Gorka Izaguirre, Dan Martin and Tuesday’s winner Lennard Kamna when they hit the Col de la Madeleine midway through the stage.
Carapaz went alone on the final climb, briefly stretching his advantage as the contenders weighed each other up, but he was caught with 3km to go as the attacks began in sight of the steepest sections.
Lopez struck out for glory soon after Carapaz had been passed, but all eyes were on the battle between the two Slovenians slugging it out for yellow.
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) September 16, 2020
Roglic eased his way back to the wheel of Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss and then rode away from Pogacar at the very end as the UAE Team Emirates rider was left to push away over-zealous fans who outwardly ignored pleas to respect the race amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Adam Yates lost time in the finale but remains in fifth place, now three minutes and 14 seconds off the yellow jersey behind Richie Porte in fourth.
“Tough day, but I hung in there as long as I could so we can be happy with that,” the Mitchelton-Scott rider said.
“We’ve got a big stage tomorrow, a lot of altitude metres, and then all we’ve got after that is the time trial, one day all by myself so we’ll keep going. Hopefully tomorrow I’ve got good legs and we’ll keep trying.”
There’s some changes to the GC order after today’s stage, but after a solid effort @AdamYates7 remains in fifth position, now at 3”14. 👏🏻
17 stages down, 4 stages to go! 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/qmVq58Ug5t
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) September 16, 2020
At the start of the day, Sam Bennett kept himself glued to Peter Sagan’s wheel and was able to use the intermediate sprint to add two points to his advantage in the green jersey, which now stands at 47 points.
Pogacar led the peloton over the Madeleine and added the king of the mountain’s polka dot jersey to his best young rider’s white jersey, but his odds of upgrading to yellow before Paris lengthened by the end of the day.