Rogers Takes Stage 16 of Tour de France
Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has garnered his team’s second stage win of the 2014 Tour de France. The Australian jumped away from a daylong break to win Stage 15, the 237.5-km ride from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, in 6:07:10. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) outsprinted Vasili Kiriyienka (Sky) for second place at 0:09. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maillot jaune.
The race’s first Pyrenean stage and the longest stage of this year’s Tour began with a series of abortive sallies before 21 riders got clear at 75 km. They were Rogers, Voeckler, and Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski and Jan Bakelants (both from Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Cyril Gautier and Kevin Reza (both from Europcar), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida), Jens Keukeleire and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Jeremy Roy (FDJ.fr), Matteo Montaguti and Samuel Dumoulin (both from Ag2r-La Mondiale), Anthony Delaplace and Florian Vachon (both from Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Bernard Eisel (Sky), and Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling). The Astana-led peloton was less concerned with the escapees than it was with the hors categorie climb at the end of today’s stage and the two hard stages that will follow it. None of the fugitives were threats to Nibali, so they were given their freedom.
At the base of the Category 2 Col de Portet-d’Aspet, the break led the bunch by eight minutes. The gap grew to 10:15 at the summit (155 km) and to 12:11 at the summit of the Category 3 Col des Ares (176.5 km).
On the hors categorie Port de Bales, the day’s final climb, Kluge was the first break member to be dropped. Roy made a number of accelerations that dropped other riders. With 26.5 km left, the break was down to three riders—Rogers, Voeckler, and Serpa. Serpa attacked and led the group over the summit.
With nine km left, Gautier and Kiriyienka joined the lead group. Gautier attacked to set up Voeckler, but Rogers countered and got clear. He created a small gap, but one that his erstwhile companions could not close. At the one-km banner, the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man led the pursuit by fewer than 10 seconds, but he had time to pump his fist and take a bow as he approached the finish line.
Behind, the GC battle took place. Movistar led the field up the Port de Bales on behalf of GC runner-up Alejandro Valverde. Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who began the day with hopes of making the podium in Paris, was dropped first and lost 3:40. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), who began the day in third place by 0:10 over Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), launched the first attack. He dropped Bardet, who would lose 2:00. Nibali, Valverde, and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) joined Pinot. Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ.fr) joined the maillot jaune group and did the pacemaking. Pinot attacked again and led the group over the summit. On the descent, a regroupment occurred, with Nibali, Valverde, Peraud, and a few other riders joining Pinot. The maillot jaune group rolled home at 8:32.
Rogers’s win and that of teammate Rafal Majka have salvaged Tinkoff-Saxo Bank’s Tour, which was planned around supporting Alberto Contador, who crashed out in Stage 10. Rogers saw that he could win the stage when the race reached the Port de Bales. "I had the feeling that my stage truly began at the foot of the final climb,” Rogers said, “and at the top, we were only three guys left in the group. On the descent, Europcar's Gautier bridged the gap and rejoined Voeckler but I just rode as fast as I possibly could on the lower slopes, created the gap, and kept the pace up to the finish line. No one was going to beat me today. Of course, I'm immensely happy and it's a good feeling to have a Tour de France stage win on my resume.”
Commenting on his disappointing performance in today's stage, van Garderen said "Movistar just made an insane tempo and it was just too hard. I just kind of didn't have the legs and felt a bit empty."
"I am really hoping I can bounce tomorrow and recover the legs I had in the Alps," van Garderen explained. "It is not finished. There are still three hard general classification days to come, so I am hoping to bounce back."
In the overall, Nibali leads Valverde by 4:37 and Pinot at 5:06. Stage 17 will be another standing shaker. The 124.5-km ride from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan will take the riders over three Category 1 ascents before they reach the hors categorie climb to the finish. Another long break will take place. Will it stay away? How will the GC fight on the day’s last climb shake out? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!