Quintana (11th), Betancur (12th) finish just over a minute behind Barguil (SUN) at final mountain stage in TDF; remain 12th, 17th overall with three days to finish in Paris
The two Colombians riding for the Movistar Team at the 2017 Tour de France fought until the very end of the final mountain stage -179.5km from Briançon to the Col d'Izoard (HC), preceeded by the Col de Vars (Cat-1)- to bring the Blues some joy to make up for the huge suffering in this year's race. Carlos Betancur joined Jesús Herrada into a huge, 54-rider early breakaway, which broke into several groups at the first climb and reached the foot of the Izoard with Lutsenko (AST) and Atapuma (UAD) in the lead, Betancur sitting just under one minute behind the leaders.
Behind at the GC group, Nairo Quintana climbed closer to the front after days of bigger suffering, and was even able to follow the first moves of a peloton always led at high speed by AG2R. The Colombian lost contact only 3km from the finish, following an acceleration by Bardet (ALM) and a counter-attack by Froome (SKY), which dropped Fabio Aru (AST). The Italian rode from the Casse Déserte to the finish alongside Nairo and Betancur, the two Colombians (11th and 12th) finishing 1'20" down on stage winner Warren Barguil (SUN). Bardet, Froome and Urán (CDT) completed the day together, 20" after the Frenchman.
The overall classification sees three riders still remaining thirty seconds apart -Landa (SKY), 4th, is now ahead of Aru, 1'36" down on Froome- and two Movistar Team riders within the top 20: Nairo, 12th, and Carlos, 17th. Places shouldn't change – barring any incident – at Friday's long stage 19 down to the coast: 222.5km from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence, prelude to Saturday's TT showdown in Marseille and Sunday's parade and sprint in Paris's Champs-Élysées.
Nairo Quintana: "Without the legs you'd want to have, it's impossible to get the result you were aspiring to reach. We just rode at the front up until we could. Obviously, this is not how I'd like to feel. It's difficult to put my physical status into words at the moment. The only thing I know is that we put all strength and courage we had to reach the top. As I said yesterday and during the last week, our goal – once we saw things were like this – was just to get to Paris in one piece, and we're closer now. We know things haven't turned out well for us, but on the other hand, our gamble was quite risky, and we didn't know how things would play out. These are the results – next year I'm sure things will be different."