With only a few stages remaining in the 2012 Tour de France, Englishman Bradley Wiggins is keeping his pace as race leader and yellow-jersey retainer. He used some skillful riding in the mountains to retain said jersey, but it was Spain's Alejandro Valverde who claimed the 17th stage as the race heads back towards Paris.
Valverde used a breakaway during the 89-mile ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes to claim the stage, which included three hard climbs and an difficult uphill finish. Valverde, who returned from a two-year doping ban this year, won his third Tour stage this year.
As for Wiggins, who is trying to become the first Brit to win the Tour de France, 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.
For more on the 2012 Tour de France, make sure to check out Podium Cafe.