Lennard Kämna finally emerged as the strongest rider on stage 16 of the Tour de France 2020, riding to a emotional solo victory in Villard-de-Lans.
The 24-year-old Bora-Hansgrohe rider has been fighting for a stage victory throughout the first two weeks of the Tour, only to be denied.
But Kämna’s moment finally came on stage 16, when escaped into the breakaway and countered an attack from Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on the penultimate climb of the day to ride 20km alone to the line.
Despite an attack from Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) in the dying metres of the stage, the GC favourites stuck together and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) holds his race lead into the pivotal stage 17.
How it happened
The return to racing after the first rest day at the Tour de France 2020 looked to be a clear opportunity the breakaway riders – with enough climbs to challenge the sprinters but just not enough for GC attacks, particularly with a huge climbing day to come on stage 17.
Stage 16 was a 164km stage from La Tour-du-Pin to Villard-de-Lans, with five categorised climbs to tackle on the way.
The first climb was a fourth category climb which came at 13km, with two second category climbs following over the next 80km.
Then into the final phase of the race and riders would have to get over the first category Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte at 130km before an easy run into the uphill finish – the third category, 2.5km-long climb to the finish.
The first part of the stage was a rapid battle to get into the breakaway with multiple attacks being closed down before more than 30 riders finally got away and led up the first categorised climb of the day.
But that move was closed down and more attacks came immediately, which results in a 15-rider group finally making the escape after 30km of racing.
That group included the likes of Kämna, Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) and Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), and they pulled out a 90-second advantage over the bunch with a number of riders trying to chase up in between.
Eventually the group swelled as Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and others bridge across from the peloton to the break, which then resulted in attack from Rolland with just under 100km left on the Col de Porte, taking the maximum KoM points at the summit.
The break then came back together shortly after, having swelled to 23 riders with the peloton now more than 10 minutes behind – it was starting to become clear the stage victory would come from this front group.
Rolland attacked again on the Côte de Revel to become joint leader in the mountains classification with Benoit Cosneyfroy (AG2R La Mondiale) with two climbs left to tackle.
On the slopes of the penultimate climb and it was Rolland’s team-mate Quentin Pacher who took off from the breakaway to ride solo at the front of the race, as the escapees were whittled down to just nine chasers.
With 4km left to the top of the Moucherotte, Pacher was swept up by a four-rider chasing group of Alaphilippe, Carapaz, Kämna and Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), with Pacher getting dropped shortly after.
Approaching the top of the climb and Carapaz launched a stinging attack with Alaphilippe, Kamna and Reichenbach all able to follow, but Alaphilippe blew and dropped off the back very quickly.
Reichenbach also lost contact under Carapaz’s pace, but Kämna was then strong enough to launch his own attack on the climb and break free of the Giro d’Italia champion, building up a 30-second advantage with 10km left to race.
Kämna only continued to extend his advantage on the final climb to the line, crossing the line to take his second career win, 1-27 ahead of Carapaz in second.
Reichenbach was a further 30 seconds behind Carapaz to finish third.
Back in the peloton, the race was effectively neutralised for the second half of the stage, aside from a speculative attack from Guillaume Martin from Cofidis on the Moucherotte, which came to nothing.
But as Jumbo-Visma led the bunch onto the final ramp to the finish, Pogačar and his UAE Team Emirates companions David De La Cruz launched an attack almost immediately, with Roglič able to follow first, with the rest of his entourage in tow.
Jumbo took control once agains with Wout van Aert hitting the front just over kilometre from the line.
Pogačar fired again 400m from the line but Roglič was tied to his wheel, with Miguel Ángel López countering but unable to get away.
All the GC favourites crossed the line together, led by López, and the race lead remains unchanged.
Roglič leads Pogačar by 40 seconds, as the race heads into arguably the toughest stage of the race so far – 170km from Grenoble to the summit of the Col de la Loze, 2,300m above sea level.
Tour de France 2020, stage 16: La Tour-du-Pin to Villard-de-Lans (164km)
1. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-12-52
2. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-27
3. Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-56
4. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-34
5. Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC Team, at 2-35
6. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, at 2-37
7. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Sunweb, at 2-41
8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sunweb, at 2-47
9. Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept p/b KTM, at 2-51
10. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 2-54
General classification after stage 16
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 70-06-47
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 40s
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling, at 1-34
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 1-45
5. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 2-03
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-13
7. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 2-16
8. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 3-15
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-19
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at 5-43