After spending the second rest day in Andorra, the riders of the Tour de France left the Principality on Tuesday for stage 16. 169 kilometers long, this mid-mountain stage lead the peloton from El Pas de la Casa towards Saint-Gaudens, in Haute-Garonne.
The riders swallowed the first 40 kilometers, downhill, until they reached the foot of the first of the four difficulties, the Col de Port (11.4 km at 5.5%), under wet conditions. Despite the many attempts, in which Louis Meintjes, Georg Zimmermann and Lorenzo Rota took part, the breakaway was yet to be formed at the top of the Col de Port.
At the bottom of the descent, a trio led by the Belgian Jan Bakelants had finally managed to make the difference. Behind, a group of 11 riders which included Rota, had launched a counterattack. After winning the intermediate sprint of Vic d’Oust, Bakelants led the trio up the Col de la Core with a 50-second lead over the pursuit and four minutes over the peloton.
Thanks to the impetus given by Bakelants, stage winner and wearer of the yellow jersey on the Grande Boucle in 2013, the leading trio managed to keep the pursuers in check, up to the Col de Portet-d’Aspet (5.4 km at 6.7%), the top of which was 33 kilometers from the finish. In the early slopes, Konrad (Bora) then went on his own. Rota and Bakelants found themselves together in pursuit, crossing the summit less than a minute behind.
The pursuit group of nine riders, including Rota & Bakelants, tried to come back in the last climb, the Côte d’Aspret-Sarrat (800 m at 8.6%), but the Austrian champion could not be caught. He won solo in four hours of racing. After their brave effort in the breakaway, Jan Bakelants and Lorenzo Rota finished respectively 8th and 10th of today’s stage 16.