Canadian rider Hugo Houle broke down in tears after winning stage 16 of the Tour de France on Tuesday, dedicating the triumph to his recently deceased brother. Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo retained the overall lead from defending champion Tadej Pogacar and Geraint Thomas of Ineos as the Tour entered the Pyrenees.
As he had promised the 23-year-old Slovenian Pogacar attacked relentlessly, but the Dane Vingegaard skipped up and rode on his tailwind every time.
It was a great day for Colombian veteran Nairo Quintana who climbed to fourth, while home hope David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ now lies fifth.
Conversely French rider Romain Bardet wilted, as did Ineos rider Adam Yates three years after his twin brother won a stage ending at Foix.
Shortly after leaving the baking stone citadel at Carcassonne the 149 remaining riders from the 172 that embarked from Copenhagen began to climb into cooler territory with the stage reaching an altitude of 1600m.
A group of eight riders broke away, passing a Canadian Mountie in full dress uniform, boding well for IST rider Houle who slipped his rivals on the 25km swoop downhill to a baking finish line at Foix on the banks of the Ariege river.
“It sounds incredible, but I know my brother helped me,” said Houle.
“I went full gas. I was supposed to open the way for Michael Woods,” he said of his teammate and compatriot.
“There’s a new generation of Canadians coming through.”
He became the first Canadian since Steve Bauer in 1988 to win a stage on the race.
The Tour now spends two days in the upper Pyrenees where the 2022 yellow jersey winner is likely to be decided.