Tour de France 2014 threw up another new winner as Australian Michael Rodgers of the Tinkoff-Saxo team clinched victory in Stage 16, between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon, on Tuesday. Astana's Vincenzo Nibali is still the yellow jersey holder. Incidentally, Nibali and Alejandro Valverde, who is second in the General Classification(GC) standings, cycled past the finishing line together.
Thomas Voeckler of the Europcar team stood second while third position went to Vasil Kiriyienka's of Team Sky.
In terms of distance, at 237.5 kilometres, Stage 16 was the longest. Furthermore mountain climbs in the Pyrenees started in this stage.
Rodgers, for most of the race, took his time before going on the attack. With 4.5 kilometres left he went for the jugular.
Around the 10 km mark, the Australian and Voeckler were neck and neck with each other. The two then saw Kiriyienka and Cyril Gautier emerge behind them. While descending from Port de Bales, Rodgers broke away and went for victory.
Gautier was still giving him stiff competition. Rodgers used the descent to his advantage as he raced ahead. In the process he brought up his first triumph in this year's edition.
"I knew once I got to the bottom of the last climb, the race really began for me," the Stage 16 winner was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
The Aussie reckoned that Voeckler would pose a very stiff challenge and that he had to somehow outthink the others in the last few rounds.
"I knew Tommy Voeckler would be hard to beat. I tried a few times to drop him on the climb, but I couldn't. I knew I had to outwit them in the final," he said.
Vocekler's team Europcar was giving him valuable support as he threatened to surge ahead; however, Rodgers stuck to his guns.
"Voeckler had a teammate behind, and he started playing that game, but I wouldn't have it. I said, 'listen, don't play with me, you're not going to beat me today, there's no way," he added on Velonews.com.
As the last few rounds began it was all or nothing for him. "On the descent, I thought, I've been in this position too many times to lose, I'm either going to crash or I'm going to win today," he said.
Rodgers, cleared after testing positive for Clenbuterol last year, said he had been trying too hard and now he had begun to think differently. "I tried so hard to win a stage of the Tour before but this year, I've changed mentally. When it rains it pours, doesn't it?" he added.
Rodgers had registered two wins earlier in the year at the Giro d'Italia .
Stage 16 results
1. Michael Rogers [Aus/Tinkoff – Saxo] 6hrs 7mins 10 seconds
2. Thomas Voeckler [Fra/Europcar]
3. Vasil Kiryienka [Blr/Team Sky] ST
4. Jose Serpa [Colombia/Lampre] ST
5. Cyril Gautier [Fra/Europcar] ST
General classification standings
1. Vincenzo Nibali [Ita/Astana] 73hrs 05mins 19seconds
2. Alejandro Valverde [Spa/Movistar]+4:37secs
3. Thibaut Pinot [Fra/FDJ.fr] +5:06seconds
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud [Fra/AG2R] +6:08seconds
5. Romain Bardet [Fra/AG2R] +6:40seconds