With Stage 18 being such a crucial stage for the general classification, conventional wisdom said that Stage 17, a mountain stage with no hors categorie climbs, would be one for the breakaway. Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen has shown in this 2011 Tour de France that this kind of stage sets up for him perfectly, and he's done it again, winning his second stage of the Tour with a great attack on the final climb and a flawless descent into Pinerolo.
The descent into the finish was an extremely tricky one, leading to more gaps being formed between the contenders going downhill than going uphill. All of the contenders stuck together up the hill, but once again, Samuel Sanchez and Alberto Contador were able to drop the other contenders. Unlike Stage 16, Cadel Evans didn't stick with them. Thomas Voeckler, a man who has a reputation for being a fantastic descender, lost control of his bike on two occasions to lose some time, but he was able to avoid injury on both occasions.
Once onto the less treacherous roads on the final three kilometers of the race, Sanchez and Contador gave all they had to try to pull away from the other favorites. Unbelievably, the other general classification contenders were all able to catch them in the end, surprisingly leaving no time gaps at the finish after Sanchez and Contador appeared to have pulled away. Voeckler recovered from his hiccups well enough to keep the yellow jersey, but he lost 27 seconds at the line to all of the men who are chasing him, leaving Cadel Evans one minute and 18 seconds behind the Frenchman, who will be hard pressed to keep his Maillot Jaune after Stage 18.