After a day of no European Championships or Tour de France, the cycling returned from the rest day on Tuesday to satisfy sports fans that had been deprived of coverage for all of 24 hours.
Now Wednesday brings a major stage in the fight for the general classification. It boasts 37 kilometres of categorised climbing all packed into the final third of the 178km stage. It will be a punishing day for those at the front and back of the race. As well as watching those competing for the win, there will also be half an eye on green jersey Mark Cavendish as he looks to make the time cut.
Meanwhile, Tadej Pogacar comes into this one with more than five minutes advantage over the chasing pack and could extend that lead by the end of the day. Rigoberto Uran, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz will probably try to disrupt the Slovenian but nothing has happened in the race so far to suggest they will be successful.
There is no doubt the likes of Julian Alaphilippe will try to take the stage, but this one is likely to be too tough for those punchy climbers. There promises to be fireworks throughout the day, with most of the GC action coming inside the final 50km. You’d be a fool to miss it.
If Pogacar can avoid losing any time by the end of today’s stage then he will have almost certainly won his second Tour de France. The Slovenian rather ominously said before the rest day that he is planning to ride defensively for the remainder of the race. I don’t think anyone believes that for one second. Pogacar has ripped up the rulebook throughout the 2021 Tour and is the strongest climber in the race. Jonas Vingegaard may be able to stay with him most of the way up the final mountain pass but this feels like a stage tailor-made for the defending champion.
Stage 17 is set to start at 10.50am BST and is expected to finish at around 4pm.