Canada's Hugo Houle Wins Tour de France, Stage 16; Looking to Stage 17
The Tour de France heads well into the Pyrenees on Wednesday with the 81-mile Stage 17 from Saint Gaudens to Peyragudes. It is a unique stage that expects to impact the “General Classification.”
The first 30 miles are flat, but the race's second half could generate interest.
A Quick Stage 16 Recap
Stage 16 was a transitional stage as the riders went from the flats to the start of the mountains. The 111-mile stage was punctuated by two category one climbs (Port de Lers and the Mur de Peguere). Jonas Vingegaard repelled a few more minor attacks by Tadej Pogacar. In the end, there was no change in the top two.
Canadian rider Hugo Houle was the feel-good story from Stage 16. He set the tempo for Michael Woods, and then Houle realized there was a gap. The Isreal-Premier Tech rider went all-in and expanded his lead over the Mur and rocketed down the descent.
By the end, Houle won by 70 seconds over Woods. The Quebecois rider pumped his fist for his fallen brother, Pierrick, who was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago.
Stage 17 – Another Potential Game Changer
As the riders continue through the Pyrenees, what will happen next? Roman Bardet lost a ton of time and barely held on to a spot in the top 10. That was unexpected. Even Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock lost more than a minute. This is while Aleksandr Vlasov moved up three spots.
General Classification After Stage 16
The 17th stage features the Col d’Aspin. Then, the Col de Val Louron-Azet and the James Bond Airport climbs steal the show. The airport has a nasty kick at the last third of a mile. The climb increases to a 13% gradient. Expect some separations. Other than the Hautacam and “Time Trial”, these may be the spots — especially for Pogacar.
Was his double punch a precursor? That seems likely. Pogacar must keep attacking at crucial opportunities. The Slovenian has a slight advantage over Vingegaard but is it enough? Time will tell. Expect little to change.
Does a breakaway hold out again, or will someone from the general classification win? The feeling is for Stage 17. Look to the breakaway. Pogacar and Vingegaard will continue their battle with the real haymakers from Stage 18.
From the American perspective, Neilson Powless is 13th at 18:02 back. The EF-Education rider has lost time but is holding a pretty good place in the standings.
He is also third in the “King Of The Mountains” race with 36 points. If he has the legs, Powless could make a go of it. With Matteo Jorgensen crashing, Powless reigns as the best of the Americans.
An entertaining Stage 17 is coming up Wednesday.
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