Julian Alaphilippe of Quick Step Floors has won Stage 16 of the Tour de France after Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates, who seemed to be heading for a solo win in Bagneres de Luchon on the first day in the Pyrenees, crashed on the final descent.
Even before Yates’s crash, it had been an incident packed day, with riders including Chris Froome and Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas, who remains 1 minute 39 seconds ahead of the defending champion in the overall standings.
Early on in the 218-kilometre stage from Carcassonne a number of riders including Froome and Thomas were subject to the after-effects of a police officer pepper-spraying protesting farmers, with many members of the peloton having to seek assistance from race doctors as the stage was briefly suspended.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment for anyone following the action on TV later on as Quick Step Floors rider Philippe Gilbert, who had attacked from a large break to crest the Col de Portet d’Aspet alone, tumbled over the parapet after losing control of his bike as he sought to increase his lead over his pursuers.
That his head-first fall into a ravine happened on the same descent where reigning Olympic champion Fabio Casartelli lost his life when he crashed while riding with Motorola in the 1995 edition only heightened the anxiety of those watching.
Fortunately, former world champion Gilbert was soon back on his bike, giving a thumbs-up to the TV cameras before remounting.
There was still more drama to come. Yates, out of overall contention, attacked on the final climb, the Col du Portillon, crested with 10 kilometres to go.
But his bike slid out from beneath him as he negotiated a bend, leaving the way clear for Alaphilippe – who consolidated his lead in the mountains competition – to take the stage win.
The winner of one of the jerseys has been settled today. Assuming he reaches Paris, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan is mathematically assured of a record equalling sixth points jersey to tie him with Erik Zabel.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.