Chris Froome narrowly beat Alberto Contador to win the 17th stage of the Tour de France in a rainy time-trial and extend his overall lead on Wednesday.
The British rider was slower than Contador on the first part of the undulating 32-kilometer (20-mile) course, from Embrun to Chorges in the French Alps, but gained time on the final section to finish nine seconds ahead of the Spaniard and clinch his third stage win of the race.
Froome, who has also won two mountain stages, made up for last week when he was edged out by Tony Martin in the first time-trial on Stage 11.
“This is incredible for me,” Froome said. “This morning I thought to myself: ‘OK, I’m ready to lose a bit of time because tomorrow will be very hard.’ So I’m surprised to win.”
Bauke Mollema held second place overall for several stages, but Contador took his place with the Dutchman dropping to fourth.
Joaquin Rodriguez finished the stage in third place, 10 seconds behind Froome - who is 4 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of Contador overall and 4:51 clear of Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff teammate, Roman Kreuziger.
Mollema is fourth, 6:23 back. “I’m just looking to keep the yellow jersey, not to win any more stages,” Froome said. “I don’t put anything past Alberto Contador. He’s going to keep pushing all the way to Paris.”
Froome, wearing an aerodynamic black helmet with a thick yellow stripe down the middle, coughed into his right hand as he prepared to start. When the five-second countdown finished, Froome puffed his cheeks and rolled down the ramp.
The day after narrowly avoiding a crash when Contador fell just in front of him on a long downhill, Froome started cautiously on a circuit that was slippery after some afternoon rain and featured two short, sharp climbs and two quick descents.