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Gallery: Konrad solos to glory on messy Stage 16

Another solo breakaway wins the day but the real story is a host of bizarre decisions made behind

Will Strickson
14 Jul 2021

The importance of tactics at the Tour de France has never been as clear as on yesterday's Stage 16 of this year's race.

Having learned from his previous breakaway efforts, mainly watching Bauke Mollema going it alone on Saturday, Bora-Hansgrohe's Patrick Konrad outclimbed the rest of the day's escapees on the Col de Portet-d'Aspet and stayed clear to the line.

It was Bora's second stage of the Tour and their second from a solo break, and it was also Konrad's second professional win, his only other coming in the Austrian National Championships. And in truth it never really looked in doubt, as it seemed Konrad was the only rider in the break with his head screwed on.

A series of bizarre decisions began with Team BikeExchange as Chris Juul-Jensen pulled back the first breakaway of the day on the descent of the Col de Port with the team clearly targeting the stage and intermediate sprint points for Michael Matthews.

Both Juul-Jensen and Matthews got themselves into the new break, but Juul-Jensen somehow managed to go clear of his Aussie teammate, pushing on with two others to take sprint points away from Matthews and later being so cooked he couldn't help close Konrad down to the extent that he arrived at the finish 18 minutes down on the peloton.

Matthews' fellow sprinter/climber Sonny Colbrelli had also targeted the stage, taking British teammate Fred Wright to help keep him in contention. Colbrelli actually outclimbed most of the break though including Wright but, having sat on David Gaudu's wheel as the Frenchman closed the gap to Konrad to 25 seconds, didn't have anything left in the final chase.

He did outsprint Matthews to second though, which Mark Cavendish will be grateful for.

Back in the pack, Cofidis attacked up the final Category 4 climb, attempting to take Guillaume Martin clear, but they simply increased the speed of the peloton as Wout van Aert then countered only to find nobody was on his wheel.

Van Aert then proceeded to do a 10km leadout in a reduced group that included the entire top 10, distancing nobody, before the favourites thought it would be a good idea to have a sprint to the line with Richard Carapaz pipping a smiling Tadej Pogačar, who looked like he was in as much disbelief at the tactics as the rest of us.

The best part is Martin, the man who started the move, actually lost four seconds to his rivals on the line.

Anyway, thankfully Chris Auld's images are far less confused than the action he was covering. Here are the day's best shots:

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