Konrad in maiden Tour stage win as top guns eye summit finish
Austrian road champion holds off breakaway riders in rain-soaked 16th stage
Saint Gaudens — Patrick Konrad claimed a maiden Tour de France victory with a successful long-range attack on a rain-soaked 16th stage, a 169km mountain trek from Pas de la Casa, Andorra, on Tuesday.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider broke away from a small group 36.5km from the finish in the day’s last significant climb and never looked back as his chasers reacted too late.
The 29-year-old crossed the line 42sec before Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli, who outsprinted Australian Michael Matthews for second.
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey as the main contenders kept their powder dry ahead of Wednesday’s much-feared 17th stage to the Col du Portet, a 16km ascent at an average gradient of 8.7%.
To get there, they will first tackle the Col de Peyresourde (13.2km at 7%) and the Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4km at 8.3%).
Pogacar's group finished Tuesday’s stage 13:49 off the pace as the top positions in the general classification remained unchanged.
After a long descent in low temperatures and drizzling rain to reach the actual start of the stage, a leading trio opened a gap on the peloton but they had a 10-man group hot on their heels, as the main bunch gradually let it slide.
Fabien Doubey, Konrad and Jan Bakelants had 30sec on their chasers in the descent from the Col de la Core as they headed towards the Col du Portet d’Aspet (5.4km at 7.1%).
Konrad increased the advantage to 1:20 as he attacked on the climb.
France’s David Gaudu, a specialist climber, increased the pace from the chasing group and only Colbrelli, a sprint specialist, could follow, narrowing the gap to 30sec at the top.
But Konrad was the fastest in the treacherous descent where Italian Fabio Casartelli crashed and died in 1995, and he extended his lead again, holding off the chasing group.
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