Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) won his 2nd stage of this years Tour de France, crossing the line solo after a daredevil descent of the final climb of stage 16. Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) finished in 2nd place with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) taking 3rd.
Stage 16 of the Tour de France got off to a fast start with nearly every team hoping to place a rider in the break of the day. The common interest made it very difficult for the break to actually form and it was only after 105km of attacking, that the break eventually went clear. In fact it was our African Team’s duo of Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote that forced the 47 rider break, Edvald Boasson Hagen also included, clear with a double attack.
Before the break formed though, there was some drama out on course when some local farmers protest turned ugly. They were trying to stop the race from the roadside when police intervened. It seemed some type of gas was used to disperse the protesters but it ended up affecting some of the riders as they rode passed. After a 15min halt to the stage, racing resumed with no serious injuries.
The big break with our African Team’s trio drove the pace up until they had a lead of over 10-minutes. Unfortunately the break was littered with climbing talent and on the penultimate climb of the stage, Slagter was our final rider to be distanced from the front group.
Out front, it was Yates we who attacked the final climb of the stage, followed by Alaphilippe 15 seconds later. The 10km descent to the finish was rather tricky and the pressure was on the Australian as he knew the Frenchman was the superior descender. In the end he succumbed to that pressure and made a mistake in a hairpin corner, crashing to the ground. Alaphilippe went into the lead and rode away with the stage.
For Team Dimension Data, all our riders came home safely behind the yellow jersey group after a tough first stage in the Pyrenees.
Julien Vermote – Rider
It was a really hard start to the stage and it took over 100km for the break to go. They also had to neutralize the race for a bit because of the farmers strike, that probably contributed to the break taken so long as well. In the end we were in the move with three guys, Eddy, Tom and myself so that was good. On the first climb we survived well. In the 2nd climb they went full from the bottom and that’s where Eddy and I dropped. Tom was still upfront but later on he also dropped. For sure it wasn’t easy, this is the Tour de France and it’s only top quality riders up there. Certainly we used a lot of energy to get into the break as well so we knew it would be hard up against so many good climbers. At least we tried and we were there so we will keep on trying and on Thursday we will have another opportunity to try get a victory.