Zakarin claims first Tour stage win, Froome extends lead


Ilnur Zakarin stormed up the Finhaut-Emosson to win a gruelling stage 17 of the Tour de France and the indefatigable Chris Froome extended his overall lead to two minutes and 27 seconds on Wednesday.

Zakarin appeared to be in contention to win stage 15 before losing a contact lense and finishing eighth, but the Katusha rider was not to denied on the 184.4-kilometre route from Berne to Finhaut-Emosson.

The 26-year-old charged up the brutal final 8.4-gradient ascent to win his first stage of the famous Grand Tour by 55 seconds from Jarlinson Pantano to become the first Russian to win for Katusha since Sergei Ivanov in 2009.

An exhausted Zakarin looked broken as he crossed the finishing line and Pantano also had nothing left in the tank at the end of a 10.4km last climb on a warm day in Switzerland.

There appears to be no stopping defending champion Froome as he closes in on a third Tour de France title after he stretched his advantage over his rivals by 40 seconds.

Froome was given great support by his Team Sky rivals in the peloton, with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) unable to keep up with the pace of the yellow jersey on the final ascent.

Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) moved up to third overall behind Mollema, with Quintana dropped late in the stage and now three minutes and 27 seconds adrift of Froome with only four stages remaining.