FRENCHMAN Thomas Voeckler dominated all four climbs en route to a solo win and the lead in the climbers’ race after Stage 16 of the Tour de France.
It was a big ride for Voeckler in the 197-kilometer trek from Pau Bagnères-de-Luchon, which featured two hors categorie climbs before two Category One ascents.
The stage win, done in five hours, 35 minutes and two seconds, was Veockler’s second of the 2012 Tour. Chris Anker Sorensen crossed the finish line 1:40 behind, while Gorka Izaguirre Insausti took third place 3:22 off the pace.
The top three in the general classification remained unchanged after sticking together and finishing
British rider Bradley Wiggins still holding a 2:05 lead over Sky teammate Chris Froome and 2:23 over Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, but last year’s champion Cadel Evans of Australia slipped from fourth to seventh and is now over eight minutes behind.
It was still a huge group up ahead of the pack before the Col d’Aubisque, a climb beyond categorization by international cycling standards, with Voeckler reaching the summit ahead of Sweden’s Frederik Kessiakoff.
Voeckler still had Brice Feillu and Dan Martin behind when he charged up the hors categorie Col du Tourmalet, Feillu still managed to stay close at the Category One Col d’Aspin, 46km from the finish, but it was all Voeckler on the Category One Col du Peyresourde.
Stage 17 is the final race in the Pyrenees, 143.5-km ride featuring four climbs and finishing in Peyragudes.