(AP) - Alejandro Valverde of Spain won the 17th stage of the Tour de France, while Bradley Wiggins mastered a last big test in the mountains to retain the yellow jersey on Thursday.
The 89-mile ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to the ski station of Peyragudes featured three hard climbs and an uphill finish.
Valverde, the Movistar team leader who once served a doping ban, won his third Tour stage in a breakaway. Christopher Froome of Britain was second and his Sky team leader Wiggins was third, both 19 seconds back.
Wiggins faces one last test - the individual time trial, his specialty - on Saturday. He's trying to become the first Briton to win cycling's biggest race.
Flat stages await on Friday and in Sunday's ride to the finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Those stages aren't expected to alter the standings.
Stage 17 Results
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte - Movistar Team - 4:12:11
2. Christopher Froome - Sky Procycling - 0:00:19
3. Bradley Wiggins - Sky Procycling
4. Thibaut Pinot - FDJ-Big Mat - 0:00:22
5. Pierre Rolland - Team Europcar - 0:00:26
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck - Lotto Belisol Team
7. Vincenzo Nibali - Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:37
8. Tejay Van Garderen - BMC Racing Team - 0:00:54
9. Christopher Horner - RadioShack-Nissan - 0:01:02
10. Daniel Martin - Garmin - Sharp - 0:01:11
General classification after Stage 17
1. Bradley Wiggins - Sky Procycling - 78:28:02
2. Christopher Froome - Sky Procycling - 0:02:05
3. Vincenzo Nibali - Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:02:41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck - Lotto Belisol Team - 0:05:53
5. Tejay Van Garderen - BMC Racing Team - 0:08:30
6. Cadel Evans - BMC Racing Team - 0:09:57
7. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre - RadioShack-Nissan - 0:10:11
8. Pierre Rolland - Team Europcar - 0:10:17
9. Janez Brajkovic - Astana Pro Team - 0:11:00
10. Thibaut Pinot - FDJ-Big Mat - 0:11:46
Full results here..
Photos by CorVos
Tomorrow's Stage 18 Route -
[youtube width="600" height="361"]httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXUJ-BYHYVY