Le Tour 2019: Stage 17

Matteo Trentin solos to the win in Gap. Luke Rowe and Tony Martin kicked off Tour after altercation

European Champion Matteo Trentin added a fourth win to the Mitchelton-SCOTT tally at the 2019 Tour de France, joining Simon Yates (with two) and Daryl Impey after he soloed away from a large breakaway to take victory 37 ” ahead of Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) with Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) third at the head of a small group of five at 41″.

Tour de France 2019 – 24/07/2019 – Etape 17 – Pont du Gard / Gap (200 km)
Copyright: A.S.O. & Alex_Broadway

With a massive day of climbing looming on Stage 18 the stage was billed as the last chance for some to go for glory so it was no surprise when a large group of over 30 riders went on the attack just a few kilometres into the stage.

Tour de France 2019 – 24/07/2019 – Etape 17 – Pont du Gard/ Gap (200 km) – Sergio HENAO (UAE TEAM EMIRATES)
Copyright: A.S.O. & Alex_Broadway
Chasing peloton ride through parched mountain scenery
Etape 17 – Pont du Gard/ Gap (200 km)
Copyright: A.S.O. & Alex_Broadway

At the finish Matteo Trentin described his win:

“It was really an emotional finish because I’ve actually only won two races in my career alone, and doing it here in the Tour de France, with this finish line, with this group in front. It was amazing.”

“Chris was a really big help. We spoke to each other and decided he would cover the early attacks and he did cover a lot. Then when that strong move went, I was able to follow and it was the perfect scenario.”“I tried [to attack] a few times, because there was no collaboration and I knew that if I got maybe a 10-second gap and they start to watch each other, with the legs I have I can finish it off. I was a bit scared with the headwind and the guys behind taking a turn each they could have taken some time, but it wasn’t the case. When I was on top of the climb the only intention was to go full gas, taking as little risk as possible.”

Luke Rowe and Tony Martin disqualified following altercation

An altercation between Ineos’ Luke Rowe and Team Jumbo-Visma Tony Martin saw both riders later disqualified and each fined 1000 Euros. While aspects of the incident were captured on camera the complete picture as well as the cause the incident remain somewhat of a mystery.

WATCH: Full Rowe-Martin clash emerges (Copyright Eurosport)

Luke Rowe and tony Martin later held a joint press conference to apologise but it did not sway the officials.

Alongside the conference the riders issued the following statement.:

“We believe this is a very harsh decision by the race commissaries and against the spirit of what has been such a fantastic race to date. It was the sort of incident that merits a fine and a warning but certainly not expulsion from the race – a ‘yellow card’ but not a ‘red’. Luke and Tony recognised it for what it was – a minor spat on the road at the end of a sweltering day in the saddle. It didn’t affect any other rider and it didn’t disadvantage any other team. They rode to the end of the stage together where they both shook hands. There was no ill will and they clearly still have a lot of respect for one another. We believe it is unjust that their Tour could come to an end over something like this at this point in the race. ”

The ejections are a blow for their teams respective GC contenders Geraint Thomas and Steven Kruijswijk. Riders, teams and media were quick to express dismay at the harshness and consequences of the decision.