Tour de France: Mick Rogers wins stage 16 solo as Vincenzo Nibali retains overall lead
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 23/07/14 12:02pm
Breakaway rider Mick Rogers powered to a solo victory on stage 16 of the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali withstood heavy pressure to consolidate his overall lead.
Rogers infiltrated the day’s 21-man escape and later formed part of a subsequent five-man group on the descent from the final climb, but surged clear on his own with an attack 4.7km from the finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon and could not be caught.
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It was the first Tour stage win of the 34-year-old Australian’s career and his third victory at a Grand Tour this season, following a pair of successes at May’s Giro d’Italia.
His triumph also continues a remarkable comeback to racing after being cleared of a doping charge in April, which had seen him miss the first chunk of the 2014 campaign.
Thomas Voeckler, who had been hoping for a third consecutive Tour win in Bagneres-de-Luchon, made it into the final group of five but had to settle for second place, nine seconds down on Rogers, with Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka following in third.
Bad day for Bardet
Nibali crossed the line in a small group of race favourites 8min 32sec behind the winner and consequently retains his 4min 37sec lead over second-placed Alejandro Valverde in the general classification.
Thibaut Pinot has climbed from fourth to third, 5min 06sec down, after Romain Bardet was dropped on the final climb and lost 1min 50sec to the yellow jersey group.
Rogers said: “It’s amazing. I knew once we got to the bottom of the last climb that the race began for me. I knew Voeckler would be hard to beat and I tried a few times to drop him, but I couldn’t on the top of the climb.
"I knew I had to outwit them on the final. He had a team-mate behind and had that bargaining chip, but I said I wouldn’t have it and said, ‘Don’t play that with me because you’re not going to beat me today, no way’.”
Stage 16 was the longest day of the race, at 237.5km, and took the riders from Carcassonne into the Pyrenees for the first time. With a route suiting a breakaway winner, there was a huge fight to get riders into the escape and it took more than an hour for the peloton to finally allow a 21-man group to go clear.
When they took a lead of over 12 minutes on to the final climb, the hors-categorie Port de Bales, the escapees realised there was no need to work together and instead started attacking one another at will.
By the summit of the climb, only Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Voeckler (Europcar) and Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida) were left in the lead, but they were joined by a resurgent Kiryienka and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) on the 21.5km descent to the finish.
Gautier, who was trying to tee up team-mate Voeckler, surged ahead in order to force the other three to chase and hopefully tire, but instead, Rogers simply powered straight past the Frenchman and quickly opened up an unassailable gap.
Behind them, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) fell away early on the climb up Port de Bales, and then Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) followed him out of the back of the yellow jersey group when Pinot (FDJ) launched a ferocious attack.
A second surge from the Frenchman close to the summit also distanced Valverde (Movistar), but the Spaniard was able to regain contact on the descent and crossed the line alongside Nibali, Pinot and a handful of others.
Stage 16 result
1 Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo, 6:07:10
2 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar, +0:09
3 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky, same time
4 Jose Serpa (Col) Lampre-Merida, st
5 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar, st
6 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, +0:13
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +0:36
8 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +0:50
9 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp, +2:11
10 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 73:03:19
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +4:37
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +5:06
4 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +6:08
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +6:40
6 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +9:25
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura, +9:32
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +11:12
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +11:28
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, 11.33