Top Banana: Tour de France stage 17 – Jarlinson Pantano

To paraphrase Chumbawamba, Jarlinson Pantano gets knocked down, he gets up again and you are never going to keep him down.

The Trek-Segafredo rider did well to make the front group on yesterday’s nervy Tour stage to Romans-sur-Isère – Colombians are not exactly renowned for their crosswind prowess. But before he could congratulate himself for finishing with the leaders, he was rolling around on the tarmac after a touch of wheels in the finale.

“No fractures, only knocks,” he Tweeted post-stage after a medical check-up. It would have been understandable to sit in the gruppetto and nurse his wounds on stage 17, the first of Alpine suffering.

But the South American climber – a stage winner in the 2016 Tour – took to the attack and made it into a sizeable lead group that included team-mate Bauke Mollema.

After his captain Alberto Contador went for it on the Croix de Fer and caught the escape, Trek-Segafredo were going for broke. The Spanish Grand Tour star has made these a hallmark over the years: eye-catching bids that others don’t dare make – or simply cannot do. 

Trying to lever an advantage over the yellow jersey group, the grimacing Pantano drove the group for 25 kilometres of false flat. He pushed the lead to 3-40 before Mollema took over on the Télégraphe.

Sometimes, Contador’s buccaneering bids work, sometimes they don’t. Today, the cherished stage win went to Primoz Roglic, who proved strongest over the Galibier and down into Serre-Chevalier. But Contador won the Combativity Prize and rose to ninth overall.

For me, the enduring image was Pantano’s hard work, even if it didn’t pay off. In 24 hours, he went from medical checks to making the race. Clearly, they make ’em tough in Colombia. 

The Rouleur Top Banana goes to an unsung hero of each stage of the Tour de France – not the winner, not the yellow jersey – but a rider whose efforts deserve recognition. 

Tour de France 2017: Rouleur Top Bananas

Stage 1 – Taylor Phinney
Stage 2 – Tony Gallopin
Stage 3 – Juraj Sagan
Stage 4 – Guillaume Van Keirsbulck
Stage 5 – Stefan Küng
Stage 6 – Frederik Backaert
Stage 7 – Reinardt Rense van Rensburg
Stage 8 – Lilian Calmejane
Stage 9 – Dan Martin
Stage 10 – Julien Vermote
Stage 11 – Maciej Bodnar
Stage 12 – Steve Cummings
Stage 13 – Alberto Contador
Stage 14 – Warren Barguil
Stage 15 – Michal Kwiatkowski
Stage 16 – Simon Geschke

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