A classic case of deja-vu on stage 16 of the 2012 Tour de France.
The day after a rest day, when a rider was sent home after a drugs scandal, a mountain stage with some cycling household name climbs and Thomas Voeckler goes off on one. Yes the final run in wasn’t quite as slow and in doubt as his victory in stage 10, nearly two minutes ahead of his nearest rival compared to a few seconds last week.
But the outcome was the same for the little Frenchman as he stood on the podium three times in the presentation. Once for the stage win, secondly to receive the polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains – after going over the top of each climb, two hors catégorie and two 1st category, first – then finally being given the award, red number, for most combative rider of the day.
A great ride by Voeckler.
It was also the same the same for the race leader and his Sky team as again they controlled things on what should have been a very difficult day in the high Pyrenees, especially with temperatures at the highest they’ve been so far in this Tour. Another stage ticked off, another where you thought an attack would have to come but really didn’t, it couldn’t because Wiggins, Froome and Sky were just too strong.
Nibali tried, a couple of times, but each time he only got a few metres ahead before Froome or Wiggins reeled him back in as they had done so many times before and as Nibali’s team mate Ivan Basso set the initial pace that Sky took on it ended the hopes of Cadel Evans as he was dropped early and never got back – suffering a stomach upset apparently.
So it’s down to the top 3 as it stands with one more tough day in the mountains for Nibali to try anything. Technically you say Wiggins is one more day away from winning this year’s Tour, with Froome second.