INTERMARCHÉ
WANTY GOBERT

Tour de France

Bakelants & Rota fought for victory in the breakaway


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.

I wanted to get through the climbs at my own pace, without worrying too much about the group behind because you never know, if you wait for them, the cooperation probably wouldn't have been good. Everything indicated that Konrad was very strong, because he managed to join us in the Col de la Core by himself. He did well in Portet-d'Aspet, attacking early just after I took my turn. I managed to follow him but had to let him go, without exploding thought. Unfortunately, I lost the opportunity to bring a podium. Today, I am happy with my race because I gave everything, but not with the result.

Considering I spent almost two weeks fighting with a rib injury, being able to challenge for the win today and get a top 10 is a success for me. Every day on this Tour, the battle to get into the breakaway is tough. Even today, we have fought for a long time to make it. Behind Jan Bakelants I was in a very strong group, with fast riders like Matthews and Colbrelli. We can be happy with this result, even if we always want more.

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