Belfast Telegraph

Rogers flying high but Nibali retains yellow jersey

By Matt McGeechan

Michael Rogers claimed a first ever Tour de France stage victory as he out-sprinted Thomas Voeckler. The former Team Sky rider followed up his Giro success on his return from suspension by taking stage 16, the 237.5 kilometre run from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Rogers, cleared of wrongdoing in April after a positive test for clenbuterol, and Voeckler were part of a 21-man break-away which took shape in three waves from 28km, and they were 12 minutes clear by the time they reached Port de Bales – 35km from the finishing line.

But the Australian made his move 4.5km from the line and it proved decisive to prevent Voeckler from extending his unbeaten run at Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali maintained his overall lead for Astana with his advantage over second-placed Alejandro Valverde remaining at four minutes 37 seconds.

But there was a reshuffling of the pack behind them as Frenchman Thibaut Pinot jumped to third place 29 seconds adrift, with compatriots Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet in fourth and fifth respectively.

Rogers was thrilled to have claimed his maiden victory on a day when he simply refused to be beaten.

He said: "I had the feeling that my stage truly began at the foot of the final climb and at the top, we were the only three guys left.

"On the descent, Europcar's Gautier bridged the gap and rejoined Voeckler, but I just rode as fast as I possibly could on the lower slopes, created the gap and kept the pace up to the finish line.

"No-one was going to beat me today. Of course, I'm immensely happy and it's a good feeling to have a Tour de France stage win on my resume."

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish hopes to be back racing in four weeks' time and is targeting September's World Championships to make his comeback.

He sustained a shoulder injury after crashing on the opening stage of the Tour de France, forcing him to pull out of the event and also miss the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But he is hopeful of a return within the next month.

"On Sunday I got on the bike for the first time since. It wasn't pain free but I could ride. I can ride but don't want to risk racing. It will be four weeks before I'm racing."

Belfast Telegraph


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