Tour de France: Vingegaard Blasts to Victory in Stage 16 Time Trial
Tour de France race organizer A.S.O. had designed stage 16 as an individual mountain time trial. The 22.4-kilometer route took the riders from Passy to Combloux in Haute-Savoie and A.S.O. as well as cycling analysts and fans were anticipating an epic battle between the general classification favorites Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma).
The stage profile culminated with the category 2 Cote de Domancy (2.8 km; 8.5%), which features tough incline percentages of up to eleven percent.
A muscular injury forced Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team) to withdraw from this year’s Tour de France following rest day two.
Michael Mørkøv (Soudal-QuickStep), Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana), and Gianni Moscon (Astana) set the early best times on the day. They were replaced by Soudal-QuickStep’s Dries Devenyns - but the best time trial climbers were yet to start.
Frenchman Remi Cavagna (Soudal-QuickStep) set a new best time when he completed his time trial. Cavagna, known as the TGV train from Clairmont-Ferrand for his great time trial skills, entered the hotseat. But many other riders were yet to start today’s Tour de France stage.
Swiss Time trial expert Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) started his time trial fast – it was evident he was aiming for a big result in today’s time trial. Küng was the fastest at Intermediate Time Point 1 but had dropped to second place at Intermediate Time Point 2. Küng had dropped to third at ITP 3 and was the fifth-fastest rider across the finish line.
Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) squeezed himself into fifth place in the rankings following a fine performance from the Frenchman who was listening to French pop during his warm-up.
Wout Van Aert started his time trial slowly in order to distribute his energy well, but at Intermediate Timing Point 3 he had increased his speed and therefore replaced Cavagna as the fastest rider. Van Aert was also the fastest rider when he reached the finish line.
Great Britain’s Tom Pidcock (Ineos-Grenadiers) was ninth-best at Intermediate Timing Point 1. Having dropped to 12th place in the general classification today was an important day for him to try to gain valuable time on his competitors.
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) started his race. He appeared very focused and looked ready to give it his best.
Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard left the start box with an incredible speed and looked strong. He appeared faster than Pogacar in the first kilometer - was he spending too much energy on the initial part of the stage and had Pogacar distributed his resources more well, so he would have more energy left for the final climb?
Meanwhile, the Yates brothers were delivering fine performances in their time trials. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) was fourth-best at Intermediate Timing Point 1, five seconds behind Küng. Adam Yates (Jayco-Alula) was 7th at ITP 2.
While Vingegaard was yet to reach the timing point, Pogacar was the best rider at Intermediate Timing Point 1. Pogacar’s time was 10:10 minutes. It did not take long before Vingegaard powered past the same timing point in an amazing time of just 09:54 minutes.
Vingegaard looked aggressive and almost manic on his bike, while Pogacar was riding in a steady and beautiful style. Vingegaard pressed on.
Pogacar was 31 seconds slower than Vingegaard at Intermediate Timing Point 2. The climb to the finish now awaited the favorites. Would Vingegaard run out of steam and had Pogacar saved his energy for the climb.
Vingegaard crossed the finish line as winner of stage 16. Vingegaard finished the stage in 32:36 minutes, which was 01:38 minutes faster than general classification favorite Pogacar.
“I was very surprised by today’s result,” Pogacar told Roadcycling.com after the stage. “I didn’t feel my best in the second part of the time trial. I felt that it was going ok, but not great,” Pogacar added.
It’s a big gap now, I was hoping for a smaller gap. I hope I’ll have a nice rest tonight, so I’ll have great legs in tomorrow’s stage like I had in the first week of the Tour.
Vingegaard increased his lead in the general classification following his demonstrative performance in today’s time trial. Pogacar is 01:48 minutes behind the race leader, while Adam Yates is third, 8:52 behind the incredible Dane.
Tomorrow, an excruciating mountain battle awaits the Tour de France riders in stage 17.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for complete coverage from Tour de France 2023.
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