As the 2012 Tour de France draws nearer to a close, Englishman Bradley Wiggins used some skillful riding in the mountains to retain the yellow jersey with just a few stages remaining. Nevertheless, it was Spain's Alejandro Valverde to claim the 17th stage as they riders head back towards Paris.
Valverde was strong during the 89-mile ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes on Thursday, chocked full with three hard climbs and an difficult uphill finish. Valverde, who returned from a two-year doping ban this year, won his third Tour stage.
As Wiggins tries to become the first Brit to win cycling's biggest race, the 32-year old holds a 2 minute, 5 seconds lead over the rest of the field.
The finish of the race consists of a pair of flat stages on Friday and Sunday, including the ride to the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The 18th stage on Friday is a 137-mile ride from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde in central France.
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