UAE Team Emirates rider Martin misses out on Tour de France stage win to 'better guy on the day' Quintana
Stage 17 also saw Sky's Thomas extend his lead in the general classification standings as Froome lost time to his teammate
UAE Team Emirates rider Dan Martin conceded Nairo Quintana "was the better guy on the day" after settling for second-place behind the Colombian on Stage 17 of the Tour de France as Geraint Thomas extended his overall lead on Wednesday.
Movistar rider Quintana claimed victory on the 65-kilometre mountain stage in two hours, 21 minutes and 27 seconds, with Martin 28 seconds behind. Team Sky's
Thomas completed the podium 47 seconds adrift of Quintana, but crucially extended his lead over teammate Chris Froome in the general classification standings from 1:39 to 2:31.
Froome's failure to stay with Thomas in the final few kilometres of the 16km climb to the finish of the Col du Portet amid a series of attacks by rivals means the Kenyan-born Briton is in danger of finishing off the podium.
Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, finished behind Thomas but well ahead of Froome to move up to second place.
For Martin, his finish moves him up to ninth in the general standings, and the Irishman was pleased with his efforts.
"The last two or three days I have felt pretty good," he said. "I planned to go earlier, which is why we put Darwin [Atapuma] and Kristijan [Durasek] in the break, but there was so much wind that it wasn’t worth it.
|"[Team] Sky set the tempo at the bottom of the climb and I thought as I am 7 seconds down, they might let me go.
Nairo came with me and I think he wanted to ride together, but he went hard and I wanted to settle in to a tempo and time trial to the top. I was trying to keep him, at 10 to 15 seconds as I can normally pull that back, but at this altitude it wasn’t possible.
"He was the better guy on the day and I am pretty proud of how the I rode and how the team rode."
Quintana's win moved the Colombian up to fourth in the climber standings, but still 100 points behind leader Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors.
"I'm happy for the win. It was a day for the pure climbers," Quintana said. "It's also great for the morale of the team. It's been frustrating, and sad because things didn't work out the way we'd hoped. But we have to keep on fighting."
While Quintana claimed the stage, Thomas will be delighted to have tightened his grip on the yellow jersey as he closes in on a first Tour de France title.
"It was just about defending that lead," Thomas said. "But it's the Tour de France, so anything can happen."
Froome appeared to abdicate his crown when he tipped his hat to Thomas at the finish.
"Geraint deserves to be in the yellow jersey, he's earned it," said Froome, who his bidding to become just the fifth rider to win five Tour de France titles.
Welshman Thomas will start Thursday's 18th stage, a mainly flat 171km ride from Trie-sur-Blaise to Pau with a 1:59 lead on Sunweb team leader Dumoulin, with Froome in third.
Friday's stage is the final day in the mountains, but has a downhill finish in Laruns, meaning any advantage rivals may manage to snatch from Thomas on the ascent could, theoretically, be annulled by Sky on the descent.
The final podium placings will be decided by the penultimate-stage time trial, over 31km, on Saturday.
Updated: July 25, 2018 09:53 PM