Tuesday July 16th, 2013

Stage 16Vaison-la-Romaine / Gap

Start 13h25 GMT 2+

Costa victory on the day that could have cost Contador dearly

Stage summary16.07.2013Stage 16- Vaison-la-Romaine / Gap

The stage to Gap has a habit of creating several stories at the same time and it happened again in stage 16 of the 100th Tour de France. There were two races unfolding concurrently: one for the stage victory that was dominated by Portugal's Rui Costa - who outsmarted, out climbed and out paced everyone else on a fast, hot day of racing - and a second contest fought between the riders vying for the yellow jersey. An escape had formed after an hour of attacking early in the stage and there were 26 men involved: Costa would prove to be the best of this group. He would savour a moment of success only a few days after slipping out of the top 10 while fulfilling his role as domestique on the Movistar team. He lost time while trying to help Valverde minimise his losses after an ultimately puncture in stage 13. But now there's the consolation: a stage win for Movistar and a moment to celebrate for Costa who started punching the Sky well before the line.Meanwhile, however, the battle behind was providing the major story of the stage. The antics of Contador and Kreuziger were putting Froome into a position of having to chase every attack. It happened on the way up the final climb, the col de Manse and on the way down it almost ended in disaster. Contador was throwing the gauntlet down and Froome reacted. Around a sharp turn about 7.5km from the finish, the Spaniard lost control of his bike and the yellow jersey swerved to avoid him and ended up off the road. It was a scene similar to what happened en-route to Gap in 2003 but this time there was no riding over a field and the fallen Spaniard would remount his bike, race back to the other GC rivals and finish together.

The progress report
The start of the 16th stage of the 100th Tour de France was at 1.22pm with 179 riders still in the race. The two non-starters were Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Danny van Poppel (VCD). Ahead lay a 168km course that included three categorised hills: the cote de la Montagne de Bluye (cat-3 at 17.5km), the col de Macuègne (cat-2 at 48km) and the col de Manse (cat-2 just 11.5km from the finish). The intermediate sprint on this hot stage that started in Vaison-la-Romaine and ended in Gap was in Vyenes at 123km. The temperature at the start was 28.5 degrees Celsius.

20 riders in the escape
At the 4km mark, Voigt and Sagan were on the move at the front of the peloton. There were a range of attacks and counter-attacks and eventually 32 got ahead that group included: Sagan (CAN), Hansen (LTB), Morabito (BMC), Bakelants, Didier, Gallopin, Kloden and Voigt (RTL), Voeckler (EUC), Jeannesson (FDJ), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Bennati, Hernandez and Roche (TST), Brutt and Trofimov (KAT), Valverde, Costa and Rojas (MOV), Navarro (COF), Mori (LAM), Chavanel and Velits (OPQ), Boom (BEL), Hesjedal, Martin and Navardauskas (GRS), Dumoulin (ARG), De Gendt (VCD) and Vuillermoz (SOJ). But the attacks kept coming until 35km when Sky moved to the front and stopped the counter-attacks. After an hour of racing a group of 23 gained a good advantage on the peloton. The riders involved were: Hansen (LTB), Gilbert and Quinziato (BMC), Didier, Gallopin and Kloden (RTL), Gautier and Voeckler (EUC), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Roche (TST), Trofimov (KAT), Astarloza (EUS), Costa (MOV), Coppel and Navarro (COF), Mori (LAM), Velits (OPQ), Navardauskas (GRS), Albasini and Meyer (OGE), Dumoulin (ARG), De Gendt and Hoogerland (VCD) and Marino (SOJ). At 39km they were ahead by 2'50”. Jeannesson (FDJ) joined the lead group at 42km. Hoogerland led the escape over the second climb with a lead of 6'35” over the peloton.

The best on GC of the men in the lead was Navarro who started the stage in 20th overall, 23'26” behind Froome.

The average speed for the first hour was 42.4km/h; the second hour: 43,6km/h. The peloton was stopped at a level crossing for 20” at the 92.5km mark and this helped the escapees lift their advantage up to 8'10”. At 101.5km, the escape had a lead of 9'00”. The average speed for the third hour was 43.6km/h.

Costa makes his winning move 18km from the finish
With 35km to go in the stage, Marino launched an attack from the lead group. He was chased by Kadri and the pair worked well together to gain time on their former breakaway companions: with 25km to go they were 20” ahead of the other escapees while the peloton was at 11'40”. Hansen chased the leading pair and caught them with 19km to go. But the star of the stage, Rui Costa – who was also voted winner of the ‘Fighting Spirit' award was the rider who seized the day 18km from the line. He surged into the lead and left the other escapees in his wake. He wouldn't see them again until after he'd won his second Tour de France stage, following the success at Super Besse in stage eight of the 2011 race. Behind him a group of four formed: Kloden, Kadri, Coppel, and Jeannesson but this French trio and the German couldn't close the gap opened by Costa on the final climb.

Costa had been in 10th place overall at the start of stage 13 but he dropped to 18th overall as he tried to help Valverde minimize his time losses after a puncture that day. The consolation has come in Gap; he became the second Portuguese rider to win his this city in three years (following Sergio Paulino's success in 2010).

Contador rolls the dice and nearly pays a big price!
All the way up and down the final climb, the Saxo-Tinkoff team attacked the yellow jersey. With 18km to go, Contador fired the first shot from Froome's group and this prompted a pursuit by Richie Porte (SKY) and his team leader. Once the Spaniard was caught, however, his Czech team-mate Kreuziger attacked. This one-two punch routine happened five times on the way on the col de Manse and although it briefly elminated Porte from the equation it had little effect otherwise, except for cracking the rider who had been ranked fifth overall, Laurens Ten Dam (BEL). In the group of the yellow was: Froome, Porte, Contador, Kreuziger, Quintana, Valverde, Rodriguez, and Mollema.

Problems for Froome and Contador
With 7.5km to go, the rider in third overall was taking the fight to the yellow jersey and, in a scene reminiscent of events leading to Gap in the 2003 Tour, we saw two of the riders at the top of the GC rankings caught up in an incident. Contador lost control of his bike, Froome went off the left side of the road but both quickly remounted and sped off in pursuit of the Mollema group. It was immediate apparent to Contador that the other GC riders had waited for him and Froome and the Spaniard thanked them as they caught the group containing the white jersey and second overall. Quintana was the main beneficiary of the antics in the final as he moved from sixth to fifth overall after stage 16.
Froome finished the stage in 29th place, 11'08” behind Costa but in the same time as his main GC rivals. He will wear the yellow jersey in stage 17 and shall be the last rider to start the time trial.

Stage 16 Vaison-la-Romaine / Gap

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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