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Tour delight for Trentin as title contenders prepare for Alps battle

The Tour de France title contenders rode a conservative race on Wednesday as they saved their legs for three crucial mountain stages.

Matteo Trentin won his third Tour de France stage.
Matteo Trentin won his third Tour de France stage.

MATTEO TRENTIN CLAIMED the third Tour de France stage win of his career as the race leaders kept plenty in reserve for the upcoming make-or-break Alps mountain stages.

The European champion was part of a breakaway group of over 30 riders that left behind the peloton in the early stages of the 200-kilometre 17th stage of the Tour.

It became clear the 29-year-old Italian was the man most likely to win long before the finish, and he delivered for Mitchelton-Scott, riding solo in the closing stages after pulling clear of Kasper Asgreen, who took second spot for Deceuninck-Quick Step, with CCC’s Greg van Avermaet third.

Wednesday was the day the riders arrived in the Alps, travelling from beneath the spectacular Pont du Gard aqueduct near Nimes and heading eastwards to an altogether more mountainous setting at the finish in Gap.

It was a taster day, one for the riders with an eye on glory in Paris on Sunday to acclimatise to their new surroundings, skirting by several rugged peaks without being called on to take on any daunting ascents.

What it amounted to at the business end of the general classification was that nothing changed. France’s Julian Alaphilippe remained in the yellow jersey, with no challenges from his rivals as the peloton effectively rested their legs.

Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) retained an overall lead of one minute and 35 seconds over Britain’s defending champion Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS) and 1:47 over Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.

France’s Thibaut Pinot – strongly fancied by many to come through and win the Tour – remained fourth at 1:50.

The yellow jersey had never changed hands in 23 previous stages ending in Gap, which last hosted a finish in 2015, and predictably that trend continued.

Thomas is hoping Alaphilippe’s remarkable effort so far will take its toll in the mountains, saying: “You’d think he’d be starting to get tired now. Teams will be thinking to try to make it hard all day. It’ll be interesting. It’s three big, big days now and I think a lot can happen.”

Trentin added to his stage wins from the 2013 and 2014 Tours and moved up to 34th overall this year. He said on ITV4: “It was really an emotional finish because I’ve only won two races in my whole career alone.”

- Omni

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