Australian Michael Rogers won the 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday as Frenchman Romain Bardet’s and American Tejay van Garderen’s hopes of a podium finish suffered a major blow with both losing considerable ground.
Three-time world timetrial champion Rogers outfoxed his companions in a five-man breakaway to give his Tinkoff-Saxo team their second stage win at this year's Tour on the 237.5km mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.
Vincenzo Nibali of Italy retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Valverde while France’s Thibaut Pinot, who was the strongest in the intimidating ascent to the Port de Bales, moved up to third at the expense of compatriot Bardet.
AG2R-La Mondiale rider Bardet, who had promised to blow the race open in the Pyrenees, was unable to sustain the pace in the climb and lost over one minute and 40 seconds.
Van Garderen could not follow either and lost more than three minutes.
A 21-man breakaway took shape after about 60 kilometres and built a 12:30 gap that started to shrink when they hit the first slopes of the ascent to the Port de Bales, a 11.7-km climb at an average gradient of 7.7 per cent.
Astana and Movistar set the tempo of the peloton in the climb while Rogers’s acceleration in the break reduced the group to seven men.
A Thomas Voeckler attack skimmed it down to Just five before Rogers began to pull away on the descent towards the finish with around 5km to go.
He finished nine seconds ahead of Frenchman Voeckler, who took second in a sprint finish ahead of Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus.
Riding the tour for the tenth time, it was the 34-year-old Roger’s first ever stage victory and follows the two stages he won at the Giro d'Italia in May after coming back from a temporary doping suspension.
Nibali finished around eight-and-a-half minutes back in a small and elite group of his closest rivals.
World champion Rui Costa of Portugal did not start the stage as he withdrew suffering from pneumonia.
“He was forced to withdraw after an X-ray examination, carried out during the rest day at a clinic in Pezenas, showed an outbreak of pneumonia,” his Lampre team said in a statement.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-22