Tour de France Report: Stage 16
The 101st Tour de France continues through July 27. Click through to read our report of Stage 16.
Location: Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon
Duration: 237.5km/ 147.57mi
Terrain: A very mountainous stage (two category 4 climbs, one category 2 climb, one category 3 climb, and one Hors Catègorie [uncategorizable] climb)
Weather: 22C/71.6F 10km/hr winds
Why you should care: The riders are back from the rest day and thrown into the longest stage in the Tour yet, not to mention its debut in the Pyrenees. The riders will spend upwards of six hours in the saddle today climbing five mountains and finally descending into Bagnères-de-Luchon. On the descent of one of these mountains, the Col de Portet d’Aspet (category 2) lays the monument to Fabio Casartelli, the 24-year-old Olympic champion who crashed on this descent in the Tour de France of 1995 and suffered a fatal head injury.
There were a lot of shoutouts to Casartelli on Twitter during the stage today, particularly from Italian fans:
Just one Italian in this 21-man break - Matteo Montaguti. Hope they let him ride past Fabio Casartelli's memorial in pole position #TDF— Blazin' Saddles (@saddleblaze) July 22, 2014
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) were two favorites for the win today, especially Voeckler, who has had success in the Pyrenees in Tours past.
Almost as anticipated was the competition for the King of the Mountains (KOM). Many riders are negatively affected by rest days, and their return to the Tour the day after is often evidence. Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez, current KOM, is one of those riders. His return today was especially difficult since he did not train yesterday, opting instead to spend time with his wife and children. (C’mon, man: Bike before wife, peloton before spawn!)
With Rodriguez's form lacking, the KOM competition was essentially wide open, with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in hot pursuit.
As it turned out, Rogers had the better legs going into B-d-L on today’s stage, netting his first Tour de France stage win after breaking away at 4.5km to the finish line. Voeckler did come in a close second (nine seconds behind Rogers), but perhaps expended too much energy on the climbs to be able to attack on the descent. Similarly, Purito did not have the energy to take the one point available atop the easier climb of Côte de Fanjeaux, which went to Majka, who is now the leader of the KOM competition.
It’s Tour mania time! It's the last week of this year’s Tour de France, and everyone is getting involved! See you tomorrow in the Pyrenees.
Who do you think will win the next stage? Sound off in the comments board below.