Posted July 16, 2013 on AP on Fox
PLAYERS: Alberto Contador
Chris Froome edged 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 20-mile course from Embrun to Chorges in the French Alps, but gained time on the final section and finished 9 seconds ahead of the Spaniard to clinch his third stage win of the race. Froome, who has also won two mountain stages, made up for missing out last week when he was edged by Tony Martin in the first time trial on Stage 11. Bauke Mollema held second-place overall for several stages, but Contador took his place as the Dutchman dropped to fourth. Spaniard 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 at 6:23. 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 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. He was 2 seconds behind Contador at the first time split. The Spaniard took more risks and continued to open up a gap. It looked like Contador's day, with Froome 11 seconds behind when he reached the top of the second climb. He then started to work on his deficit. Riders have three grueling days of climbing in the Alps before the evening finish on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday. The 107-mile trek Thursday from Gap to L'Alpe-Huez has two HC ascents of L'Alpe-Huez -- one of the Tour's most famed climbs. Both of the ascents are known as HC (Hors Categorie, meaning they are so tough they are considered beyond classification.) There's also a treacherously fast descent from the top of Col de Sarenne -- which might make Froome a bit nervous after nearly falling on Tuesday. There are two more HC climbs and two Category 1 ascents on Friday, and another HC finish on Saturday.
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