Stage 17: Savoldelli wins Tour de France 17th stage

Paolo Savoldelli is the second Discovery Channel teammate of Lance's to win a stage.  Credit: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images
REVEL, France, July 20 (AFP) - Paolo Savoldelli of the Discovery Channel team won the Tour de France 17th stage held over 239.5km between Pau on Wednesday to claim his first victory on the race.

His teammate and race leader Lance Armstrong retained the yellow jersey and was content to come in with all the main challengers over 20 minutes behind the stage leaders.

The American, who is en route to winning a seventh consecutive yellow jersey, will be celebrating. Savoldelli is the second member of the Discovery Channel team to win a stage on the race following George Hincapie's win on the second day in the Pyrenees on Sunday.

Savoldelli, the reigning Tour of Italy champion, held off Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen of CSC in a two-man sprint to the finish line. Both riders had been part of an eight-man group which had broken away from a larger group with less than 25km to finish.

The original 17-man breakaway group had formed at the 38km mark and were allowed to build a solid lead on the peloton which grew to a maximum of 24 minutes.

Spaniard Oscar Sevilla, of the T-Mobile team, was the best placed of those in the breakaway although the little climber was a long way off challenging the likes of Armstrong at over 38 minutes behind the American.

Indeed, Armstrong was glad to see the breakaway go and was doing little to prompt a pursuit -- especially given that two of his Discovery Channel teammates, Savoldelli and Jose Rubiera, were at the front.

By the time their lead had grown to over 22 minutes with less than 50km to race, there was no chance they would be caught. And while the main peloton behind them sat back on the pedals, at the front a few riders started to have a few ideas about the stage victory.

Dutchman Erik Dekker, the only rider in the bunch to have already won a Tour de France stage and who won here in 2000, attacked with less than 50km to race however the Rabobank veteran was quickly countered.

Ukrainian Andriy Grivko tried his chance a few minutes later, but the Domina Vacanze rider only got a 200-meter lead before Aussie race debutant Simon Gerrans chased him down.

The AG2R rider's lead was followed and soon a group of eight riders had formed, Sevilla among them and sure to improve his standing in the general classificationby the end of the day.

Their lead over the nine riders they had been with earlier soon grew to over one and a half minutes with 25km to the finish and while there was some collaboration to make sure their advantage was maintained there were signs of an imminent attack.

With nine kilometers over a mixture of flat and undulating terrain to race Bram Tankink attacked, however the Dutchman was soon countered and moments later it was Frenchman Sebastian Hinault and Savoldelli who were at the front.

Arvesen and Gerrans were not far behind, however the little Aussie was finding the pace difficult.

An attack by Savoldelli with only two kilometers to race left Hinault trailing. He had run out of juice, and soon Arvesen went off in pursuit.

The Norwegian dug deep and soon took over Savoldelli shortly before the finish. However the CSC rider also ran out of steam, and moments later Savoldelli coasted past him at the finish line.

Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images Italian Paolo Savoldelli (Right) and Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen in a two-man sprint to the finish line of the 17th stage

Top 10 results, Stage 17: Pau - Revel (239.5 km)
1. Paolo Savoldelli (ITA/DIS) 5:41:19
2. Kurt Asle Arvesen (NOR/CSC) at 0:00
3. Simon Gerrans (AUS/A2R) 0:08
4. Sebastien Hinault (FRA/C.A) 0:11
5. Andrey Grivko (UKR/DVE) 0:24
6. Oscar Sevilla (SPA/MOB) 0:51
7. Bram Tankink (NED/QST) 0:51
8. Daniele Righi (ITA/LAM) 0:53
9. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/A2R) 3:14
10. Allan Davis (AUS/LTY) 3:14

Stage 17: Complete results

Top 10, Overall standings
1. Lance Armstrong (USA/DIS) 72:55:50
2. Ivan Basso (ITA/CSC) @ 2:46
3. Michael Rasmussen (DEN/RAB) 3:09
4. Jan Ullrich (GER/MOB) 5:58
5. Francisco Mancebo (SPA/BAL) 6:31
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA/GRL) 7:35
7. Alexander Vinokourov (KAZ/MOB) 9:38
8. Cadel Evans (AUS/DAV) 9:49
9. Floyd Landis (USA/PHO) 9:53
10. Christophe Moreau (FRA/C.A) 12:07

Stage 17: Complete overall standings

Stage 17: Category standings

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