European champion Matteo Trentin won the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday, excelling in the hilly 200-kilometre ride from the Pont du Gard as tempers flared in the peloton.
Team Ineos' Luke Rowe and Lotto Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin were both kicked out of the race following an altercation just under 14 kilometres from the finish, while Trentin pulled clear of a reduced group of breakaway riders at the foot of the last climb.
The Italian powered clear in the descent, claiming his third stage victory on the Tour after previous wins in 2013 and 2014.
The win marked another good day for the Mitchelton-Scott team following on from Simon Yates' two stage wins and Daryl Impey's stage nine victory, and goes some way to make up for Adam Yates' failure to contest for the overall victory.
"This win is worth two wins because after stage 10 to Albi, I thought my chances to win a stage were today," said Trentin.
"I had stage 12 to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in mind and it went well, because my teammate Simon Yates won it from our breakaway group.
"Today was definitely my last possibility before three days that are extremely demanding," Trentin continued. "My mentality helped me win even more than my legs. I would have never imagined to win solo."
On another searing hot day in southern France, the top contenders stayed quiet, finishing in the peloton just over 20 minutes off the pace behind Trentin. France's Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall leader's yellow jersey and leads defending champion Geraint Thomas by 1:35 in the general classification.
Trentin made his move with 14 kilometres left and never looked back, beating Denmark's Kasper Asgreen by 37 seconds and Belgian Greg van Avermaet by 41.
The main bunch rode the end of the stage at a leisurely pace, but there was tension between the top teams when Germany's Martin appeared to push his way past Thomas' teammate Rowe.
The Briton put a hand on Martin's neck and the race stewards decided to disqualify both riders.
The incident prompted Alaphilippe to ask the riders to calm down.
"At some stage today, there was tension in the peloton and I tried to calm the situation. I told the other riders to not take any risks, because I was not going to attack," Alaphilippe told reporters.
Thursday's 18th stage is a 208-kilometre mountain trek between Embrun and Valloire, featuring three climbs above 2,000 metres.