Rogers claims stage 16 victory

Michael Rogers crosses the line to take the stage victory (AP)

Michael Rogers crosses the line to take the stage victory (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

Michael Rogers claimed a first ever Tour de France stage victory as he out-sprinted Thomas Voeckler.

The former Team Sky rider followed up his Giro successes on his return from suspension by taking stage 16, the 237.5 kilometre run from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Rogers, cleared of wrongdoing in April after a positive test for clenbuterol, and Voeckler, who had Europcar team-mate Cyril Gautier for company in the closing stages, were part of a 21-man break-away which took shape in three waves from 28km, and they were 12 minutes clear by the time they reached Port de Bales - 35km from the finishing line.

But the Australian made his move 4.5km from the line and it proved decisive to prevent Voeckler from extending his unbeaten run at Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali maintained his overall lead for Astana with his advantage over second-placed Alejandro Valverde remaining at 4'37".

But there was a reshuffling of the pack behind them as Frenchman Thibaut Pinot jumped to third place, a further 29 seconds adrift, with compatriots Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet in fourth and fifth respectively.

Rogers was thrilled to have claimed his maiden victory on a day when he simply refused to be beaten.

He said: "I had the feeling that my stage truly began at the foot of the final climb and at the top, we were only three guys left in the group.

"On the descent, Europcar's Gautier bridged the gap and rejoined Voeckler, but I just rode as fast as I possibly could on the lower slopes, created the gap and kept the pace up to the finish line.

"No-one was going to beat me today. Of course, I'm immensely happy and it's a good feeling to have a Tour de France stage win on my resume."

While Rogers celebrated, Nibali was taking nothing for granted.

He told www.letour.com: "I don't underestimate Pinot. I don't underestimate anyone. I've learnt that last year at the Vuelta (racing against Chris Horner).

"When Pinot attacked, I went to catch him straight away. Valverde let a gap. I didn't let the gap grow."

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