SAN DIEGO, July 22, 2014 – Australian Michael Rogers of Tinkoff-Saxo was part of a 21 rider breakaway at the beginning of Tuesday’s Stage 16 in the Pyrenees Mountains, and he managed to stay ahead thanks to a bold descent to the finish line at the 2014 Tour de France.
Roger had to shake off French rider Thomas Voeckler of Europcar to get the victory. Voeckler has won this stage twice before and had hoped to get the stage hat trick.
Climbing skills gets a lot of attention, but descending is an equally important skill with a great deal of risk where time can be gained or lost. If there is a crash, it’s a very big loss.
Rogers took the risk and reaped the reward. The 34-year-old veteran took a bow at the finish line, enjoying his first ever stage win after 10 years of riding the Tour. It was the second stage win for Tinkoff-Saxo after losing its team leader Alberto Contador to a broken leg.
Rogers called the win amazing. He said he knew Voeckler would be hard to beat. “I said, ‘Listen, don’t play with me, because you’re not going to beat me today, no way,’ On the descent, you know I just said, I’ve been in this position too many times not to win, or I’m going to crash or I’m going to win.
“I think there is a fair bit of joy in this came out there from the years, really. I’ve tried so hard to win a stage of the Tour. I think I’ve changed mentally, and when it rains it pours doesn’t it? By now I’ve changed upstairs. I’m more hungry, opportunities seem clearer to me now. I’m not scared of the outcome anymore. Previously I was scared to try because I was scared of failure. Once you believe in that, opportunities come.
“Had Alberto not crashed, I would probably not be here as a stage winner. I would have been very tired by now because of defending the yellow jersey. Alberto wouldn’t have won the Tour easily. Nibali is in the form of his life. There would have been a great battle. Now we have to wait for next year to see that battle and I can tell you that Alberto is already thinking of next year’s Tour de France. Now that I got my opportunity to win, I could be grateful to him for having abandoned the Tour but no, I’m heartbroken.”
French rider Thibaut Pinot of FDJ knew he had to attack his French rival Romain Bardet of for the young rider’s white jersey on the last climb. Pinot’s effort paid off, gaining a minute and 50 seconds over Bardet, taking the white jersey and moving past him into third place.
Vicenzo Nibali and his Astana teammates put in a strong, steady performance and remains in the overall lead with no significant time lost to his closest rivals. Alejandro Valverde of Movistar stays in second place, Pinot in third, Bardet in fourth, and American Tejay Van Garderen had a rough ride, but he willed himself to finish within shouting distance of the leaders. He fell to sixth place, nine minutes behind Nibali. Van Garderen will need to at least stay close in the mountains and put in a great time trial ride on Friday if he aspires to a podium finish. See the entire classification here.
Polish rider and stage winner Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo is now the King of the Mountains. Pinot and Bardet will fight for the white jersey all the way to Paris, to the delight of French fans. Peter Sagan retains the green sprinter’s jersey. Cyril Gautier of Europcar won the most combative rider for leading the breakaway.
Following the Tour’s longest stage Tuesday, riders have their shortest stage Wednesday. Stage 17 is far from easy, with four major climbs in the second half. It will test the overall contenders who will try to hold or gain time in advance of the time trial on Friday. Many riders will simply try to survive and finish.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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