Race report

Fighting together until the line on stage 16 at the Tour de France

Tour de France

With yesterday’s final rest day behind them, the peloton made their first foray into the Pyrenees this afternoon; with a stage that featured two challenging climbs and a long descent and flat run to the finish. It was a fast start to the day but despite a big fight expected for the breakaway to form; a large group of 29 managed to break the shackles in the opening ten kilometres with Nils Eekhoff infiltrating it for the team.

A good pace was set in the break and with only the yellow jersey’s team riding at the front in the peloton, the gap had expanded to almost nine minutes as they hit the first of the two ascents; where the attacks immediately started. Instead of going into the red to try and follow, Eekhoff rode at his own tempo, aiming to make it over the top to then be able to support in the yellow jersey group.

As the kilometres ticked by Chris Hamilton, Andreas Leknessund and Romain Bardet were ever present towards the front of the peloton but at around two kilometres from the summit Pogacar attacked which started a frenzy of moves. Leknessund initially closed the gap well but after the next acceleration, Bardet had a tough moment and had to let go of the wheels.

Regrouping well, Eekhoff joined the trio of Hamilton, Bardet and Leknessund over the top; and the Team DSM quartet flew down the descent, riding brilliantly together to pull back the 40 second gap to the yellow jersey group. On the early slopes of the Mur de Péguère Eekhoff swung off after some great positioning work, bringing Bardet, Hamilton and Leknessund to the fore.

As they progressed up the climb the gradients reached double digits and an infernal pace was set at the front with the group splintering and Bardet had to ride at his own pace. He was well supported and flanked by Leknessund and Hamilton who stayed with him over the summit. Pushing down the descent and never giving up all the way to the finish, the Team DSM trio crossed the line together three minutes and 36 seconds behind the yellow jersey group.

“At the moment I can’t really explain what happened, it was one of my worst days I’ve ever had on the bike,” explained Bardet. “This morning I felt good but in the end I don’t know what happened. I hope the good feeling will come back and it was just an off day. I want to say a big thanks to all the guys for their support on the road and for their encouragement in the car – it really helped me to get through it.”

Speaking after the stage Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “We didn’t put pressure on the GC from before the race and said that we would take it day-by-day. Today was an off day and these things happen. The guys did amazing around Romain though to support him through it and we can be proud of them all. We still have lots to fight for as we head towards Paris so we will regroup and go all-in to leave our mark on this race.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 HOULE Hugo Israel - Premier Tech 4:23:47 120
2 MADOUAS Valentin Groupama - FDJ 1:10 50
3 WOODS Michael Israel - Premier Tech ,, 25
35 LEKNESSUND Andreas Team DSM 9:30 -
36 BARDET Romain Team DSM ,, -
37 HAMILTON Chris Team DSM 9:31 -
57 EEKHOFF Nils Team DSM 20:45 -
93 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 28:55 -
118 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM 31:21 -
123 DEGENKOLB John Team DSM ,, -