By Carlos de Torres
Villard-de-Lans, France, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- Germany’s Lennard Kamna grabbed his first career Grand Tour stage victory here Tuesday in the Tour de France’s Stage 16, besting Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz with a timely attack up the final mountain climb and then cruising solo the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) held on to the leader’s yellow jersey on a day with little movement at the top of the General Classification standings.
The first Alpine stage of this year’s Tour, a 164-kilometer (102-mile) route from La Tour-du-Pin to Villard-de-Lans, saw a group of 18 riders form an early breakaway group.
They included Carapaz, Andrey Amador and Pavel Sivakov from the Ineos-Grenadiers team, which suffered a crushing blow on Sunday when Colombian defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal lost more than seven minutes to Roglic and dropped from third place to 13th in the overall standings.
Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) also was a part of that breakaway group, as was France’s Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept), who crested the Category 2 Col de Porte in the lead.
Rolland continued his fight for the polka-dot jersey at the stage’s second Category 2 climb, soloing ahead of a breakaway group of more than a score of riders to conquer Cote de Revel and tie countryman Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) on points in the Mountains Classification.
The top riders in the General Classification – including Roglic and second-place fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) – stayed out of the battle up front, trailing by 15 minutes with 45 km remaining and saving their strength for Wednesday’s queen stage featuring two hors categorie ascents.
But Bernal, who is reportedly battling back and knee injuries, lagged far behind and ended up falling an additional 10 minutes and 39 seconds behind Roglic.
During the penultimate stretch of Stage 16, an ascent up the category 1 Montee de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte, a group of five riders separated themselves from the front pack: Carapaz, French Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider Julian Alaphilippe, Kamna, Swiss Groupama-FDJ rider Sebastien Reichenbach and France’s Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept).
Carapaz, given free rein to attack due to teammate Bernal’s rapid descent in the General Classification, went for victory two km from the top of the final climb and 22 km remaining until the finish line.
But the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner was unable to break free with that attempt nor three others and instead watched as Kamna crested over the mountain in first place and then soloed to a dominant victory.
Carapaz crossed the finish line in second place, while Reichenbach took the final podium spot.
“I’m feeling great. It has been an absolutely awesome day for me out there. I knew I had to make it to the finish alone in order to win. On the climb, I saw Carapaz was losing speed after his attacks and I understood it was my moment to have a go,” Kamna was quoted as saying afterward on the Tour de France’s official website.
Roglic, meanwhile, spoke to reporters about Wednesday’s much-anticipated, 170-km Alpine queen stage from Grenoble to Meribel.
“Tomorrow is this year’s queen stage. The final climb is the highest point of the route, and its last kilometers are very hard ones, as we have to ride a steep bike path,” the yellow jersey wearer said. “With 15 days on the legs, the terrain doesn’t matter that much. Flat, uphill – it’s the same. It’s about having the legs, and I hope to have them and do well tomorrow.” EFE-EPA