PINEROLO, Italy -- Defending champion Alberto Contador couldn't shake his multiple shadows on a dangerous descent in the Tour de France's first day in the Alps, but yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler got a taste of the sharp end of the race, losing time to almost all the big contenders.
Contador made repeated attempts to break away from the challengers for his crown, hoping to emulate the gains that he made over brothers Andy and Frank Schleck a day earlier. But he finished alongside the brothers from Luxembourg, Australian Cadel Evans and Spain's Samuel Sanchez.
Only Voeckler -- who dropped back after several mistakes on the final descent -- and Italy's Ivan Basso lost time. Voeckler still holds the yellow jersey of race leader, but now only has a lead of 1 minute 18 seconds over Evans.
"I tried to attack in the downhill because I wanted to gain some seconds, and instead, I lost some. but that's my style: to try," said Voeckler.
"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."
Contador also was upbeat about his failure to get away. "You've got to try," he said after the finish.
The 17th stage, 179 kilometers (111 miles) across the Alps from Gap to the Italian town of Pinerolo, was won by Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen. It was his second victory of the race, and made up for his loss to compatriot Thor Hushovd a day earlier.
Boasson Hagen completed the stage 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.
"I didn't want to lose this race today," said Boasson Hagen.
He praised the large contingent of Norwegian fans that has been supporting him and Hushovd throughout the race.
"It's really great to see all the Norwegian flags and Norwegian people around the course. It gives some extra power."
Second place went to Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, after Frenchman Jonathan Hivert crashed on the perilous final descent of the Pramartino. Sandy Casar of France was third, while Hivert got back on his bike and came in ninth.
The results put Evans in an increasingly strong position. The almost two minutes that the Australian has over Contador could prove decisive.
"I've got a good advantage over Alberto now, but Alberto has shown in years gone by what he can do when he's really at his top," said Evans.
Still, there are plenty of other potential challengers.
Voeckler has held his lead far longer than even he expected, and Thursday's race may just prove too much, but this year's Tour is one of the most open in years, with seven possible victors lined up behind him. Evans, the Schleck brothers, Contador and Italians Damiano Cunego and Basso are separated by less than two-and-a-half minutes.
The strength of the riders will really be put to the test on Thursday, when they ride back into France, tackling three major climbs and ending with the 22.8-kilometer (14.2-mile) climb of the Col du Galibier. Andy Schleck -- who finished second to Contador a year ago after many days of mountain battles -- said he expects it to be "the stage of the Tour."
Outside the racing Wednesday, Russian team Katusha confirmed that rider Alexandr Kolobnev's backup sample tested positive for a banned masking agent.
Kolobnev is the only rider in this year's Tour so far to fail a doping control. His urine sample taken after the fifth stage had traces of Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that can hide the presence of other drugs.
Kolobnev was in 69th place when he left the race before the 10th stage.
Katusha said Kolobnev is suspended until the Russian cycling federation holds a disciplinary hearing. He faces a two-year suspension.
Kolobnev was given the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics road race after the original bronze medallist, Davide Rebellin of Italy, was found guilty of doping.
Associated Press Writers Jamey Keaten and Greg Keller in Pinerolo and AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.