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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. - Oscar Wilde


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Tour de France stage 16 reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Patrick Konrad's Bora-hansgrohe team:

After the second and final rest day, there was nowhere for the riders at the Tour de France to hide – if they didn’t have the legs this week, there was nothing more to be done.

While the 169km stage today started with a downhill stretch, there were four categorised climbs over the parcours, each one evenly spaced to have the maximum impact on the tired legs of the peloton. The highest altitude start in Tour de France history meant there would be a fast descent, with attacks being followed by counter-attacks. However, the high-speed opening made it difficult to get away – Emanuel Buchmann and Ide Schelling each trying to get away – and an escape group didn’t form until 50km of racing, a trio heading the race, with a smaller attack group that included BORA-hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad.

Patrick’s group was a minute behind the leaders and wasn’t gaining ground, the frustration at the lack of progress causing the Austrian national champion to go on the attack with 78km to go in an attempt to bridge across, catching the trio with 71km remaining and maintaining a slim lead over the chasers.

After working so hard to get into the lead group, it was clear Patrick had his eye on the stage win and, in an attempt to escape his colleagues in the break, went on the attack once again with 35km left. Putting a target on his back with this audacious move, the Austrian had the other attackers desperate to make the catch, but as the kilometres were knocked off, Patrick’s lead began to increase, and with 10km remaining, the gap was exactly a minute.

Patrick Foster

Patrick Konrad takes a solo win in Saint-Gaudens. Sirotti photo

While the chasers did their best, there was nothing that was going to stop Patrick from taking the win, and doing it in style, becoming the first rider in the Austrian national champion’s jersey to win a Tour de France stage, crossing the line solo after an exceptional effort. Having no trouble staying with the GC riders, Wilco Kelderman crossed the line with no changes in the overall standings today.

From the Finish Line 
"I'm speechless, I can't find the words to describe the feeling! Not only is it my first ever WorldTour victory, but it is also in the Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling race. This victory goes to my family, my friends, to everybody that believed in me and, of course, to my team, BORA-hansgrohe. They always trusted in me, they always told me I had the talent and I had to fight for it. This win happened at the right moment, to win a stage here wearing the Austrian champion jersey makes me really proud. I have already been in the breakaway three times in this Tour, but I was always waiting until the finale. It wasn't the best decision. We saw that when Mohoric won a stage he went really early, when Mollema won he also went really early. So, I told myself that if I found myself once again in that situation, I would be that rider. I gave it a try and I'm really happy it worked out and I had the legs to take it to the finish. When I crossed the last kilometre mark, I thought it was going to be painful again but, in the end, I had the time to celebrate. I really believed in it only in the last 500 metres when the sports directors passed me. I'm extremely happy and I think I can enjoy this moment." – Patrick Konrad

"Our plan for the first part of the stage was to have the entire squad together over the first climb to Col de Port. Nils had the task to be on high alert so that a big group didn't go away. After that climb, Emanuel, Ide and Patrick were active in the attacks to make it to the break. Emanuel tried it, Ide tried it and it was Patrick that was successful. That group had a number of fast riders in it, so we knew we had to go early in the big climb to Col de la Core. Patrick was in the chasing group behind the front, he launched a solo attack and caught the leaders. We saw how important it was to be in the front and Patrick was really strong. In the last climb, he attacked again and dropped the other riders that were with him. He managed to build a gap and was strong enough to hold on to it until the finish line. It was a fantastic victory by Patrick, he was superb today. He deserved it. We now have two more hard stages in the Pyrenees where our sole task will be to support and protect Wilco as much as we can." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Third-place Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange sent me this:

Australian sprinter Michael Matthews bounced out of yesterday’s rest day with full motivation, riding himself into the day’s breakaway before sprinting to third place on the stage.

Sonny Colbrelli and Mochael Matthews

The group with Sonny Colbrelli and Michael Matthews approaches the finish. Sirotti photo

The Team BikeExchange rider subsequently picked up valuable points on the line, and in the intermediate sprint, where he clinched fourth place to bolster his green jersey classification campaign.

On the tough Pyrenean stage, with no less than 2811 metres of climbing, Matthews and teammates remained attentive to the various moves during the frantic start, which saw the breakaway take more than 90km to establish.

The elastic finally snapped as Dane Chris Juul-Jensen jumped away into a move, whilst behind, Matthews positioned himself at the fore and was able to take fourth place behind the leading trio in the intermediate sprint.

Following the sprint, a small group crept away from the peloton, with Matthews able to join Juul-Jensen and the gap to the peloton rapidly increased out.

With just under 50km to go, Patrick Konrad went on the attack, leaving his breakaway companions behind and it proved to be the Austrian rider’s day, as he held off the chasers by 42 seconds to steal the stage 16 win.

After a hard and wet day out, Matthews crossed the line for a well fought out third place and has now edged his way closer to the leader of the point classification, Mark Cavendish, with the Australian rider now sitting just 37 points adrift ahead of a summit finish stage tomorrow.

Michael Matthews – 3rd place
“I think today was a good opportunity for a stage win for a rider like myself. Our plan was to go in the breakaway, and we achieved that. The plan was to get some points in the intermediate and we achieved that, but just came up short with the stage win.

I think the whole team did a great job at the start to get two guys in the breakaway; myself and Chris Juul-Jensen. We keep bashing at the door to get that stage win and we will continue fighting for it.

We had eight guys chopping off (when Konrad attacked) so I didn’t think that break would go, and I wasn’t feeling that good on the climbs today so I really wanted to back my sprint and hope that it would all come back together, but in the end one rider stayed away.

I started my sprint early as there was a Cofidis rider in front, so I tried to bring him back in the sprint, but Colbrelli just came past me on the line.

I am closer (to the points classification lead) but not close enough. Cavendish still has two more sprint opportunities in this Tour de France. If he wins them then that’s another 100 points so all this work I’ve been doing the last days could be all for nothing, but I am a fighter and I will fight all the way to Paris.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director
“Michael rode incredibly well, it was a very tough Pyrenees stage and to see him and Colbrelli there, they have had a right battle between themselves for those intermediate sprints.

"To finish third on a Pyrenees stage like today is a really big effort from Michael. He also picked up more points, finishing fourth in the intermediate sprint and third on the line, so again we are just chipping away, and we will hope for the best.

"There’s nothing else we can do except going after it and we did that today.”

And here's the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has tried to put the competition under pressure in the final of the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France. The yellow and black formation attacked on the steep final climb with Van Aert, Kuss and Vingegaard. The select group of favourites finished almost 14 minutes behind stage winner Patrick Konrad.

As expected, the stage through the Pyrenees, with four climbs along the way, was one for the breakaway. When Guillaume Martin attacked on the final climb, Team Jumbo-Visma took control and accelerated. In the end the attempt was unsuccessful. Jonas Vingegaard crossed the finish line together with the other favourites and remained third in the general classification.

Jonas Vingegaard, wearing the White Jersey, leads the GC leaders to the finish. Sirotti photo

Wout van Aert thought the attempt was worth a try. “It was not a premeditated plan. Mike yelled through the radio that a number of favourites were far behind in the peloton. That was the moment for us to try and put on some pressure. Especially since there was a crosswind in the final kilometres. It was definitely worth trying, but in the end it didn’t work out. Behind Pogacar it’s very close, so every second gained is good. We’re going to keep trying if the opportunity arises.”

Vingegaard was pleased with the support of the team. “The team was very strong and made sure I didn't lose any time. I'm already looking forward to tomorrow. It is one of the toughest stages of this Tour and it will be a hand-to-hand combat on the final climb.”

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