Julian Alaphilippe of Quick Step Floors took the first Pyrenean stage one week after he claimed his maiden Tour de France victory on the first day in the Alps. He extended his lead in the King of the Mountain classification while Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey.
148 riders took the start of stage 16 in Carcassonne. 2 non-starters: Damian Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data). There were many unsuccessful attacks in the first part of the race. Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) took the first KOM point atop the côte de Fanjeaux (km 25) after which the race was neutralized due to incidents on the road side. The peloton resumed competing at km 33. Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida), Stefan Küng (BMC), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) attacked at km 35. They were reeled in at km 48. Many skirsmishes took place. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) took the second KOM point atop the côte de Pamiers (km 72). It was still all together after 100km of racing.
47 at the front after km 100
44 riders made the first peloton at km 101. Three more came across to make it 47 at the front: Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Silvan Dillier, Matthias Fränk and Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Geschke, Soren Kragh and Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb), Warren Barguil, Maxime Bouet, Romain Hardy, Amäel Moinard and Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Adam Yates and Matthew Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Damiano Caruso, Greg van Avermaet and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote (Team Dimension Data), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernand, Koek de Kort and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Christophe Laporte, Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Marco Minaard and Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). Before the main climbs of the day, their maximum advantage over the bunch led by Team Sky was 10’54’’ with 66km to go.
Gilbert’s fright in the downhill of Portet d’Aspet
Gilbert rode away solo from the bottom of the ascent to Portet d’Aspet. He crested the second category climb in the lead with an advantage of 55’’ over Alaphilippe and Barguil but he crashed in a ravine before going back on his bike. Barguil fired up the race before the ascent to col de Menté but couldn’t hold on to the pace set by Caruso and Gesink who had been prompt to follow his move. Alaphilippe bridged the gap to crest the col de Menté in first position. 13 riders gathered at the front with 36km to go. They were 17 together at the bottom of the col du Portillon, the last climb of the day with the peloton cruising 11 minutes behind. 5km before the summit, Gesink, Pozzovivo and Mollema took the command of the race. With 3km of climbing remaining, Yates rode away solo and crested the col du Portillon 15’’ before Alaphilippe. The Englishman crashed in the downhill with 7km to go and the Frenchman passed him. The polka dot jersey holder made no mistake to claim a solo victory in Bagnères-de-Luchon, the fourth for Quick Step after Fernando Gaviria won two bunch sprints at the beginning of the Tour in Vendée and Brittany. The Belgian team is only one stage win down on its score last year. The yellow jersey group comprising all the favourites crossed the line with a deficit of 8’52’’.