"I used to watch him on television".
"I knew beforehand that I had to be active to get those 20 points today and was aware that even if I did get those points it was still going to be difficult". NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app will begin broadcasting the stage at 7:30 a.m. NBC Sports Gold will show the entire stage, commercial free, beginning at 6:40 a.m.
Once Contador recovered from yet another curious bike change, Mollema continued his selfless pacing onto the Galibier before handing the reins over to the Spaniard - who, at this point, was a successful climb away from riding back into the top five and taking a quite swashbuckling stage on the world's biggest bike race. But a last burst of speed from Bardet toward the top of the mountain pass, which rises 2,642 meters in altitude, proved decisive.
Bardet went over the Galibier summit with Froome, Uran and Warren Barguil for company while Mikel Landa, the yellow jersey's Sky team-mate, caught them on the descent.
"I imagine they will try and I have to be ready for that". At their quickest, the riders descended at 75 kph.
Kittel began the day with a 29-point lead over Australian Michael Matthews in the points classification, but had already seen that cut to just nine as his Team Sunweb rival won the day's intermediate sprint. Also in the mix: an ageing trio of music hall singers, the French mafia, and a fat dog.
Contador set the race alight in Stage 17, attacking with 125km left in the stage and using his teammates to bridge up to the early breakaway and drive the break, but he didn't have the legs to go with Roglic when the Lotto NL-Jumbo rider launched his assault.
Uran leapfrogged from fourth to second overall. That's still a fair bit of time, but Meintjes loves a climb - and tomorrow is gonna be a heck of a climb.
"At this stage of the race, everyone's on their hands and knees, let's see what happens", Froome said.
Of course, we all felt - deep down - that Contador's suicide attack was the sign of a desperate man trying to revive the dying embers of a career that has nosedived in recent years (at least, certainly on the roads of France in July). "A really crazy stage".
"It's been one guy [Peter Sagan] dominating for the last years", Matthews said, "so to see a fight to Paris for the green jersey will be special".
Meanwhile German sprint king Marcel Kittel pulled out before the halfway point of the stage after crashing in the first 20km.
He had started the stage seven minutes and 10 seconds down on the yellow jersey and the efforts of his Trek-Segafredo team kept his gap to the Sky-led main bunch consistently around the three to four-minute mark.
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