A week on from his first stage and Zwift rider of the Day victory at the Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) takes another double triumph. The Frenchman rode solo to the stage 16 finish line after a dramatic descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Hitting the final climb of the day, the HC-rated Col du Portillon, Alaphilippe was among a 17-rider breakaway group. It was a large group, but still much reduced from the earlier break. With riders like Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) and Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) still there, the competition on the 8.3km, 7.1 per cent climb would be fierce.
Gesink had attacked several times throughout the day and was the first to go on the Portillon before being caught. Then it was time for Adam Yates to go, trying several times to get away and splitting the group in the process.
Yates managed to get away solo, quickly putting 20 seconds into the chase group and leading over the top of the climb. In the meantime, Alaphilippe had headed out in pursuit, cresting the Portillon 18 seconds in arrears.
With 10km of the stage left - mostly tricky descent but with a small flat section before the line - there seemed a good chance that master-descender Alaphilippe could make up the gap and then out-sprint Yates in Bagnères-de-Luchon. He needn't have worried though, as the Mitchelton-Scott man crashed at speed on the way down.
From there, it was a case of simply staying upright himself, with Yates joined by Izagirre and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 15 seconds behind. Alaphilippe had time to celebrate the win, saluting the crowds as the only French stage winner of the race.
It was a double celebration for him, having added 30 points to his mountains classification total. Meanwhile, his main rival for polka dots, Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic), only managed three points, crashing on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet and making it back to the group before dropping early on the final climb. Now enjoying a 49-point lead, the polka-dot jersey looks like it will be Alaphilippe's in Paris.
Daniel Ostanek: Another impressive climbing (and descending) display by Alaphilippe - if he wasn't already, then he's certainly one of the riders of the race so far. Adding to his king of the mountain lead will be the icing on the cake of another win, his lead in that classification not insurmountable, but looking quite safe.
Spare a thought, though, for his teammate Philippe Gilbert, the only other Quick-Step rider in the break. The Belgian attacked the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet, overshooting one corner and crashing into a ravine. He quickly climbed up and got back to racing (after a dubiously speedy medical check), but has been forced to quit the race with a knee injury.
On Sunday's stage 15 you voted for Astana's Magnus Cort as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Dane took his first career Tour de France win in Carcassonne, outsprinting Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) after hanging with climbers in the breakaway over the final climb of the day, the first category Pic de Nore.
You can vote for stage 16's Zwift Rider of the Day below. We will announce the reader's poll winner after Wendnesday's stage 17.
Stage 16 of the #TDF2018 is over and done with but who is your Zwift Rider of the Day? Choose from Alaphilippe's second stage, Gilbert fighting on after his scary crash, Gesink's repeated attacking, or Yates' ride on the Portillon— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) 24 July 2018