Pinot climbs to third as Bardet, Van Garderen struggle

Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:23pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

BAGNERES DE LUCHON France (Reuters) - Romain Bardet had promised to "blow up the race", but it was Thibaut Pinot who set off the fireworks on the ascent to the Port de Bales on Tuesday's 16th stage of the Tour de France.

Pinot, who climbed to third in the overall standings, was the strongest of the general classification contenders on the 11.7-km climb as podium rivals Bardet and American Tejay van Garderen cracked.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who is second overall, had his Movistar team set a fearsome tempo from the foot of the ascent and Van Garderen was the first of the top guns to drop back.

Bardet was struggling at the rear of the group and slipped back when Pinot's team mate Arnold Jeannesson upped the pace significantly.

"We showed that we are an incredible team," Pinot, who trails yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali of Italy by 5 minutes and six seconds, told reporters.

Pinot is 29 seconds behind Valverde, who was unable to hold his wheel on the Port de Bales, and moved 1:34 ahead of Bardet and 4:19 clear of Van Garderen in the overall standings.

"It was a treacherous stage for me, this morning I was not very confident," said Pinot.

"After the Port de Bales there was a descent that I don't like."   Continued...

The pack of riders including Romain Bardet (R) of France and race leader Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali (2ndR) of Italy cycles on its way in the Alps Mountains during the 177-km fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Grenoble and Risoul, July 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier