Norwegian wins Stage 17, Voeckler holds Tour de France lead

PINEROLO, Italy — Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway won the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday, the first of three days in the Alps, while Thomas Voeckler retained the yellow jersey but lost time after riding off course on the final descent.

Defending champion Alberto Contador made repeated attempts to get away from his rivals, but was caught on each occasion. He finished in the same time as Cadel Evans, the Schleck brothers and Samuel Sanchez.

Voeckler lost 27 seconds and is 1 minute, 18 seconds ahead of Evans. The 2010 Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso also lost time.

Boasson Hagen completed the 111 miles across the Alps from Gap to the Italian town of Pinerolo in 4 hours, 18 minutes. Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands was second, 40 seconds back, with Sandy Casar of France winning the sprint for third.

Voeckler went too fast on a hairpin turn, skidded onto the shoulder of the forested Alpine road, then raced back to try to catch Contador and Sanchez after they sped by.

"It's a pity, because I saw that Contador, Evans and the Schlecks finished together. If I'd taken fewer risks, I would have finished with them," he said.

The high-speed pursuit led to another mishap in which he jumped a curb, rolled into a small car park and almost crashed.

"It was a fraction of a second, but it seemed like an eternity. I closed my eyes and lifted the front wheel and when I opened my eyes, I was still on the bike," Voeckler said. "So I said, 'OK, here we go: U-turn and back to the race.'"

Contador was not downhearted by his failure to get away.

"I felt good, and you've got to try," he said. He didn't want to talk about the stages to come.

Boasson Hagen recorded his second stage win and the fourth overall for Norway in this year's race.

"It was very difficult yesterday, and today I was able to do better," Boasson Hagen said. "I felt I was capable of attacking on the last climb."

Mollema was second after Frenchman Jonathan Hivert crashed on the perilous final descent of the Pramartino. Hivert got back on his bike and came in ninth.

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