Tour de France (st. 16)
Kiryienka, Karpets, Costa fight at enormous break on stage 16 in the Tour as Voeckler (EUC) takes another solo win; Valverde and Cobo within first line of favourites before Thursday’s showdown atop Peyragudes
Movistar Team brought their best feelings to date in the 2012 Tour de France during the first big Pyrenean stage, one of the toughest in this year’s event with 197 kilometers from Pau and Bagnères-de-Luchon, featuring two HC climbs -Aubisque and Tourmalet- and two Cat. 1 ascents -Aspin and Peyresourde-. The telephone squad, always attentive from the start with all their riders, put three men within the 38 making the day’s monster, winning breakaway: Vasil Kiryienka, Vladimir Karpets and Rui Costa. The Belarusian would be the one getting the closest to the finish, staying with a five-man group in pursuit of Brice Feillu (SAU) and stage winner Thomas Voeckler (EUC) before the hardest slopes of the Aspin.
Behind them, Valverde and Cobo stood the pace of the main favourites and kept close to the strong attack by Nibali (LIQ) at the beginning of the Peyresourde to eventually sit into a septet chasing the Italian and the first two riders in the GC, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome (SKY), with whom they lost less than one minute at the finish line. The two Spaniards will have, as well as the rest of the Blue team, a last big opportunity to take the awaited stage victory at the finish of Peyragudes (Cat. 1), after 143 kilometers with five other climbs: Menté (Cat. 1), Ares (Cat. 2), Burs (Cat. 3) and the demanding Port de Balès (HC) chained with the opposite versant of the Peyresourde to the one covered today, with its summit just 7k from the finish.
QUOTES / Alejandro Valverde: “We knew that it was a stage where we had to make the break, because it had many chances to stay away until the finish. We didn’t expect it to be so big, but we got three team-mates in and we couldn’t do much better behind. Moving the bunch to try and make the front was going to be in vain, so our only goal from that point was sticking to the main favourites. There, the feelings were good and that gives me moral for tomorrow. As well Juanjo as myself did great and that makes us confident to chase for the win. The legs are really much better here than in the Alps. At the end, your body takes time to recover from the blows, and that paid off for me there.”