For the second time of this Tour de France, Poland's Rafal Majka beat the field to the finish line on a mountain climb to win and further consolidate his lead in the King of the Mountains race.
Majka was again part of the breakaway on Wednesday as the riders spent a second day in the Pyrenees and battled with fellow King of the Mountains contender Joaquim Rodriguez on the first few climbs, ceding points.
But on the final climb, a High Class climb to the line, the man in the Polka Dot Jersey again made an acceleration and bridged the gap to leader Giovanni Visconti before accelerating once more to reach the line in first by 20 seconds.
Once he hit the one kilometer-to-go banner, Majka knew he was about to become a two-time stage winner as the camera bike rode by to get a look at his face.
It was another good day for overall leader Vincenzo Nibali, too. Nibali made up a near five-and-a-half minute deficit over the final hour of the stage and finished just 45 seconds behind Majka. More importantly, he finished further ahead of Alejando Valverde, Thibaut Pinot and Tejay van Garderen to add even more to his commanding lead for the Yellow Jersey.
The attacks to the main group started very early on the day and continued through the relatively short stage. Then it was Nibali who made a move ont he final climb to break from the closest pursuers, followed only by Peraud from the top riders. Original accelerations dropped Valverde behind the entire pack but he was able to finish strong and hold on to second place overall and actually beat Pinot, Bardet and van Garderen to the line with his late comeback.
After Stage 17, here is the new top 10, where there was some more movement but not with the man at the very top. Nibali is destroying the competition with each and every stage this year, clearly in the form of his career.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
2. Alejando Valverde (ESP) +5:26
3. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) +6:00
4. Jean-Christoph Peraud (FRA) +6:08
5. Romain Bardet (FRA) +7:34
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) +10:19
7. Bauke Mollema (NED) +11:59
8. Laurens ten Dam (NED) +12:16
9. Leopold Konig (CZE) +12:40
10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) +13:15
Photo of the day
For a brief moment on Wednesday, the Tour left France and entered into Spain. Marcel Kittel didn't have his hair gel confiscated in crossing country lines this time.
This is it, the final mountain stage of this Tour on the third and final day in the Pyrenees and for a finale there are not one but two High Class category climbs including one to the finish in Hautacam.
Riders are running out of time to make their moves for the jerseys so Thursday should represent the last chance to make up time on a road race. There is still the individual time trial to come on Saturday as well.