Valverde climbs to solo win

Spaniard wins final Tour mountain stage in Peyragudes as Wiggins moves closer to becoming first British winner.

    Valverde climbs to solo win
    The Movistar rider won the 143.5-kilometre stage between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes as Team Sky’s Chris Froome finished second, followed immediately by Wiggins [Reuters]

    Spain's Alejandro Valverde claimed a stylish solo victory in the 17th stage of the Tour de France after a frantic finish to the final day in the mountains on Thursday.

    It was the Movistar rider's fourth career victory on the race, and his first since 2008.

    Race leader Bradley Wiggins came over the finish line of the 143.5 km stage between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes on the wheel of Sky teammate Chris Froome at around 18 seconds later.

    The pair had led a frantic chase of Valverde on the day's fifth and last climb but Valverde, who had broken away from an early escape group on the Col de Peyresourde, dug deep to hold off the British pair.

    Froome's pace, however, did some more damage to Sky's yellow jersey rivals with Italian Vincenzo Nibali trailing home around 18secs further adrift.

    Defending champion Cadel Evans, who lost nearly five minutes to Wiggins on Wednesday's 16th stage to drop to seventh overall, lost more time after struggling to hold the pace inside the final few kilometres.

    Wiggins will go into Friday's 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-La-Gaillarde with his 2:05 lead on Froome intact.

    Liquigas rider Nibali lost a handful of seconds to Jurgen Van den Broeck of Lotto, however the Italian remains third overall with a three-minute cushion on the Belgian, who is fourth.

    The 19th and penultimate stage Saturday is a 53.5 km time trial on which Wiggins and Froome, who were first and second on the stage nine time trial, are expected to excel.

    The race finishes in Paris on Sunday. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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