Stage 16 headed back into the mountains after the second rest day of Le Tour, with service thankfully resuming after all Covid tests were returned negative. For a tour that was feared would never make the final week, that long road now stretches with certitude in front of the riders.
Départ: La Tour-du-Pin > Arrivée: Villard-de-Lans
An aggressive stage across hilly terrain eventually saw team Ineos represented in a breakaway for the first time this Tour. Now that Egan Bernal’s GC contentions are over, the rest of the team have the freedom to go for stage wins. Cementing these tactics, Bernal rolled over the line in the gruppetto, along with the green jersey.
Unfortunately for those hoping to see a fight for green on this hilly stage, Peter Sagan and Sam Bennett were tucked further back into the peloton and unable to contest for points after an attempt at joining the breakaway went awry early on.
Richard Carapaz attacked over the final climb dropping all bar eventual winner Lennard Kämna. The 24-year-old German rider managed to counter-attack the reigning Giro d’Italia champ and solo his way to a spectacular victory, with over a minute and a half gap. It is exactly a month since his first ever professional victory.
The race didn’t finish with Kämna, as the peloton fought to the line sixteen minutes behind the winner, with Miguel Ángel López throwing the cat among the pigeons with a last minute sprint for the line. He was followed closely by Tadej Pogačar and yellow jersey Primož Roglič, who protected his lead over his fellow Slovenian.
Bahrain McLaren’s Mikel Landa also finished strongly in this group, demonstrating his fight for the GC is not over yet as we look to a further mountains this week, where he will no doubt be a rider to watch. He sits 2’16 behind the race leader. Damiano Caruso finished a couple of seconds behind the yellow jersey group, with the remainder of the team finishing safely in the gruppetto, ready to lend their climbing legs to assist with domestique duties in the mighty Alps.
Thanks to Russ Ellis and Chris Auld for capturing the race. See more of their work on Instagram @cyclingimages & @cauldphoto.