july 19, 2012 • 11:55 AM • last update 12:05 PM

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde wins 17th stage of Tour

Movistar Team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain celebrates winning the 17th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes, July 19, 2012. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

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.

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