Patrick Konrad attacks solo twice to take tremendous win on Tour de France stage 16
After the second and final rest day, there was nowhere for the riders at the Tour de France to hide – if they didn’t have the legs this week, there was nothing more to be done. While the 169km stage today started with a downhill stretch, there were four categorised climbs over the parcours, each one evenly spaced to have the maximum impact on the tired legs of the peloton. The highest altitude start in Tour de France history meant there would be a fast descent, with attacks being followed by counter-attacks. However, the high-speed opening made it difficult to get away – Emanuel Buchmann and Ide Schelling each trying to get away – and an escape group didn’t form until 50km of racing, a trio heading the race, with a smaller attack group that included BORA-hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad. Patrick’s group was a minute behind the leaders and wasn’t gaining ground, the frustration at the lack of progress causing the Austrian national champion to go on the attack with 78km to go in an attempt to bridge across, catching the trio with 71km remaining and maintaining a slim lead over the chasers. After working so hard to get into the lead group, it was clear Patrick had his eye on the stage win and, in an attempt to escape his colleagues in the break, went on the attack once again with 35km left. Putting a target on his back with this audacious move, the Austrian had the other attackers desperate to make the catch, but as the kilometres were knocked off, Patrick’s lead began to increase, and with 10km remaining, the gap was exactly a minute. While the chasers did their best, there was nothing that was going to stop Patrick from taking the win, and doing it in style, becoming the first rider in the Austrian national champion’s jersey to win a Tour de France stage, crossing the line solo after an exceptional effort. Having no trouble staying with the GC riders, Wilco Kelderman crossed the line with no changes in the overall standings today.
01 P. Konrad 4:01:59
02 S. Colbrelli + 0:42
03 M. Matthews + 0:42
From the Finish Line
"I'm speechless, I can't find the words to describe the feeling! Not only is it my first ever WorldTour victory, but it is also in the Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling race. This victory goes to my family, my friends, to everybody that believed in me and, of course, to my team, BORA-hansgrohe. They always trusted in me, they always told me I had the talent and I had to fight for it. This win happened at the right moment, to win a stage here wearing the Austrian champion jersey makes me really proud. I have already been in the breakaway three times in this Tour, but I was always waiting until the finale. It wasn't the best decision. We saw that when Mohoric won a stage he went really early, when Mollema won he also went really early. So, I told myself that if I found myself once again in that situation, I would be that rider. I gave it a try and I'm really happy it worked out and I had the legs to take it to the finish. When I crossed the last kilometre mark, I thought it was going to be painful again but, in the end, I had the time to celebrate. I really believed in it only in the last 500 metres when the sports directors passed me. I'm extremely happy and I think I can enjoy this moment." – Patrick Konrad
"Our plan for the first part of the stage was to have the entire squad together over the first climb to Col de Port. Nils had the task to be on high alert so that a big group didn't go away. After that climb, Emanuel, Ide and Patrick were active in the attacks to make it to the break. Emanuel tried it, Ide tried it and it was Patrick that was successful. That group had a number of fast riders in it, so we knew we had to go early in the big climb to Col de la Core. Patrick was in the chasing group behind the front, he launched a solo attack and caught the leaders. We saw how important it was to be in the front and Patrick was really strong. In the last climb, he attacked again and dropped the other riders that were with him. He managed to build a gap and was strong enough to hold on to it until the finish line. It was a fantastic victory by Patrick, he was superb today. He deserved it. We now have two more hard stages in the Pyrenees where our sole task will be to support and protect Wilco as much as we can." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director