Tour de France: Stage 17 reactions

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), stage winner

“I did my best today. I’m very happy now. Thanks to my teammates for the support. This result for me is no surprise because I tried and I won. It’s a dream.”

Chris Froome (Sky), overall leader

“I’m pretty happy with my day. It’s always difficult to know what will happen after a day of rest but I felt pretty good. I was completely surrounded by teammates. I wanted to stay up with the best and watch everyone, it was not planned to attack but I saw the opportunity to take time on my rivals and it worked, so I’m in a good position.

“Richie is one of the very best riders in the world. Today he again proved that he is in his place when he is fighting for a place on the podium. He made an incredible race.

“Things can still happen and tomorrow the time trial will be a big deal.”

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

“I did not have such good legs today,” admitted Mollema. “I felt it already on the second last climb, and when the attacks started, I couldn’t follow. At two kilometers to go, I had to go my own tempo. My positioning wasn’t great before that, I knew I should be more towards the front, but you do what you can, and I couldn’t do more at that point. I did not have the legs I had the last weeks. It’s a pity, but I just kept fighting until the finish line so as not to lose too much time.”

Richie Porte (BMC)

“It was a good day. I really want to be on the podium, so these are the moves you have to pull. I felt strong today, and I’m happy with how it all went. It’s different for me, being on BMC and riding for myself. It’s a bit different from the role I had before. I’m enjoying it, taking it day by day. The team put confidence in me, and I am happy with how today went, but there are three hard days before Paris. I’ll take it day by day.

“I spoke with the directors this morning, they said to me ‘just use your head, if you feel like it attack him [Chris Froome]’. I have to anyhow, the tempo was not so fast and it was a good time to get a gap like that. They chased hard, so that was a good sign.

“To be honest I wasn’t looking at anyone else. I thought [Nairo] Quintana was the one who was going to go, so I sat on his wheel. But I wasn’t aware of what was happening behind. It was a good attack and Froome was the only that came with me. I think it’s a good day.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

“We gave it a try; I think there’s no one who can’t say we did. It’s become really difficult to achieve the win here, but we must keep fighting for the podium. Our plan with my acceleration was making it harder and harder, trying for Sky to have as few riders supporting Froome as possible, so a subsequent attack by Nairo would have to be responded by Froome himself. I pushed hard, with a couple of strong accelerations, and later set my own pace to try and lose as little time over the line as I could. Froome is much superior, you’ve got to admit it; we must remain focused, with good morale and battling until the end. Obviously, the Tour is not done until Paris; should we have a chance to take the podium with Nairo, it’d be a nice goal to keep our minds set on.”

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

“I’m happy, not disappointed – I’ve been in the break six times now this Tour de France which isn’t easy already. Maybe I’ve often lost the victory but I have now a lot of points for the KOM jersey. Congratulations to Zakarin, he was stronger today, and I’m always suffering after the rest day. There are still two hard stages for me and I’ll try everything.”

Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)

“I am pretty satisfied with my performance today,” said Yates at the finish. “I managed to gain some time on Mollema and if a chance presents itself to take some seconds then I am going to try and do that.”

“The closer we can get to the podium the better and I am happy with how today’s stage went.”

Daniel Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step)

“It was a very fast day and we finished way ahead of the schedule, despite the scorching heat. Movistar and then Astana pushed a hard tempo, whilst I didn’t feel as good as after the first rest day, but even so I tried to attack. I thought Sky will back off, especially as Chris Froome didn’t have any problems, but they kept on going and chased me. I am five minutes down on him in the GC, so I take this as a compliment, because it looks like I’m still a threat for them”, said Dan with a wry smile, before concluding: “I remain confident and hope for some nice results in the next three days in the mountains.”