Julian Alaphilippe mastered the descent of the Col du Portillon in swashbuckling style to claim his second victory on Stage 16 of the Tour de France. The Frenchman caught and passed an unfortunate Adam Yates who fell on one of the tricky corners whilst leading, and soloed in with plenty of time to enjoy the adulation of the crowd. There was little action on GC and everything remains poised for a hopefully GC-defining, 65km stage 17. [And we’ll be here for the WHOLE THING! – ed]
Rider of the Day
This rider won the first stage in the Alps to claim the polka-dots and took his second wearing them on the first day in Pyrenees. Who else could the award go to but Quick-Step Floor’s very own D’Artagnan Julian Alaphilippe.
I’m running out of superlatives for this VeloVoices favourite, he’s on fire at this Tour de France. Truthfully he could have earned this award for any number of exploits today. His sheer teeth-gritted determination to force the break time after time as the battle waged over the opening 100km …
… demonstrating that searing acceleration to claim another 30 King of the Mountain points and tighten his grip on the polka dots …
… for his insane descending skills [I kept screaming ‘Don’t look back when you’re on the top tube!’ -ed]
However, as well as his undoubted panache and grinta, today he demonstrated what a classy sportsman he is. First for checking to see if his closest competitor for the polka dots, Fortuneo-Samsic’s Warren Barguil, was okay after his off-camera crash on the descent of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet. Second, for his action after Adam Yates crashed on the treacherous descent into Bagneres-de-Luchon.
I came here for a training camp so I knew the finale with the tricky downhill. Adam Yates crashed. I feel sorry for him. I waited a bit to see if he was OK. I also took some risks and it paid off. I’m super happy to win. It was my goal to win a stage and now I’ve got two.
We LOVE him
Heart-in-the-mouth moment for Philippe Gilbert
A rider somersaulting over the side of the road into a ravine is a sight no cycling fan ever wants to see. Riding the perfect foil for his teammate, Quickstepper Philippe Gilbert broke clear of the break on the slopes of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet and opened up over a minute on his pursuers. This descent is notoriously technical, indeed Fabio Casertelli tragically lost his life in a crash here in 1995. I know I wasn’t the only one to feel sick with worry as PhilGil lost control on a corner and disappeared from sight. If it was dreadful for everyone watching at home, how much worse for those in the team car? Velonews has an interview with Brian Holm, the DS following the break today – it’s a chastening read. Almost unbelievably, Gilbert was able to scramble out of the ravine and after a thumbs up to the camera was back on his bike, riding to the finish and a trip to the podium as most competitive rider.
He won’t take the start tomorrow,
but quite frankly, I’m just glad to see him able to ride his bike. It could have been so much worse. Heal well Philippe, you have brought so much passion and fight to this race. [I hope he never retires – ed]
Tour de Protest
The Tour de France has a long history as backdrop for various protests. It’s thankfully very rare that we see such action impinge upon the race the way it did today. With a fierce battle to get into the breakaway underway, the race suddenly slowed after 30km as French farmers attempted to block the road using hay bales. The peloton were ushered safely through but it wasn’t long before we saw pictures of poor Heinrich Hausler washing his eyes with water from his bidon.
Before long, many riders were suffering the same fate and the race was neutralised for 15 minutes while they sought treatment from the medical car. Commentators and fans alike were left wondering what on earth had happened but it soon became crystal clear. In an effort to control the protesters, the gendarmes had used mace spray (some earlier reports say tear gas), which drifted back into the oncoming peloton.
I can’t imagine how painful that was not only for the eyes but also for their lungs, and ex-policewoman Mavis Evans had another warning #yikes.
What happened on GC?
A big fat zero that’s what! The day started with such hope…
With the breakaway in play for the stage win, the GC contenders seemed content to ride behind Team Sky up the climbs and down the descents.
We did see a brief turquoise flurry on the final climb, BRAVO ASTANA for the attempt, but it was soon brought back under control.
There are many contenders who NEED to take every second they can, and yet hardly anyone was willing to risk it today. Let us hope the fireworks we expect from the grid start stage 17 are incandescent and sparkling – and not damp squibs.
I’d LOVE a piece of this particular pie… #MayIHaveMorePLEASE
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) 5:13:22
2 Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +0:15
3 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) same time
4 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +0:18
GC Top 10
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 62:49:47
2 Chris Froome (Sky) +1.39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1.50
4 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2.38
5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) +3.21
6 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +3.42
7 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +3.57
8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +4.23
9 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +6:14
10 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +6.54
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)
Most combative: Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)
Listen to Stage 16’s VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too!
Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele