- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PLA D’ADET, France (AP) - Four massive Pyrenean mountains featured in Wednesday’s Stage 17 of the Tour de France, won by Poland’s Rafal Majka.

The 166 riders still standing out of the 198 who set out from Leeds, England on July 5 have one more lung-busting day in the mountains on Thursday, when the legendary 2,115-meter Tourmalet and the infamous Hautacam climbs could well settle the race’s final podium placings.

Here are five things to know about the Tour de France’s 17th stage Wednesday:

VERY SUPERSTITIOUS: One of cycling’s enduring superstitions is the so-called “curse of the rainbow jersey” - the unfortunate tendency of riders to have disappointing seasons while wearing the rainbow-striped jersey of world champion.

The abandon of Rui Costa, the Portuguese world champion who dropped out of the Tour with a case of pneumonia, has not only added to the mythology of this curse, but helped fuel talk of a new one. The so-called “curse of the prince’s handshake.”

Of five riders who shook hands with Prince William and his wife Kate at the Tour’s ceremonial start in Leeds, none are still in the race:

- Mark Cavendish: Crashed out on Stage 1.

- Andy Schleck: Abandoned after Stage 3 with a knee injury suffered in a crash.

- Chris Froome: Abandoned after multiple crashes in Stage 5.

- Alberto Contador: Crashed out with a broken leg in Stage 10.

- Rui Costa: Abandoned before start of Stage 16 with pneumonia.

With next year’s Tour due to start in the Netherlands, riders may well beware of any royal handshakes from the Dutch royal family before the race kicks off in Utrecht.


DOWN, UNDER: Australians may have cheered a stage win by Michael Rogers on Stage 16, but overall this Tour has been one to forget for riders from Down Under.

No rider with Australia’s Orica GreenEDGE team has troubled the top standings of a Tour stage so far, with only four stages left.

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