They held on, right to the end, and showed once again that cycling, at the highest level, is a great team effort. At Cofidis, everyone had only one mission: to fight for Simon Geschke to keep the polka dot jersey of best climber. As expected, the battle took place in the first kilometres, at nearly 50 km/h on the plain. A war of positions and multiple attacks in order to be well placed before the climb of the cols on the program.
At the beginning, Anthony Perez was seen in the first breakaway attempts. Later on, Benjamin Thomas fought to reduce the gap by leading Simon. After that, Pierre-Luc Périchon did a particularly valuable job. He was alongside the German on the climb of the Col d'Aspin. This allowed Simon to get 6 points at the top. A little later, at Hourquette d'Anzan, Pierre-Luc was still there. But less than a kilometre from the summit, Simon broke away and could not pocket any points.
Despite a long attempt to come back on the leaders, Pierre-Luc Périchon and then Simon Geschke were then caught by the leaders. He has 64 points and is now ahead of the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. The battle will be even more intense tomorrow in the Pyrenees where everything can change at any moment.
The classification before the 17th stage
1st Simon Geschke: 64 pts
2nd Jonas Vingegaard: 52 pts
3rd Tadej Pogačar: 46 pts
4th Giulio Ciccone: 41 pts
5th Louis Meintjes: 39 pts
"This polka dot jersey is the best motivation you can have on this kind of stage. It was another difficult day, there were a lot of points to take, I took some but I could have taken more. On the second pass, I couldn't take the points after a chain jump. Now, what complicates the task is the fact that the leaders of the general classification can also claim the polka dot jersey. In the end it will come down to a few points. Tomorrow I hope that my legs will be ready for the challenge. Today, the team did an incredible job, everybody worked hard so that I could be part of the breakaway. I hope that tomorrow we will have another great day together. I think that from now on, it is 50-50 to keep it. But we have always done everything to keep it and we will continue to fight.
Christian Guiberteau, sport director:
"The beginning of the stage was completely crazy. The breakaway only took shape on the Col d'Aspin. Fortunately, Simon joined the chasing group and scored those 6 essential points. In the next one, he couldn't compete in the sprint for two points. The whole team - Anthony, Benjamin and Pierre-Luc - reacted very well to support him. There was an incredible collective effort. We can see that the big clients are getting closer to the jersey and everything will depend on tomorrow. We'll have to be at 100% with Simon to fight for the points and put in the same performance as today."