First Canadian Tour de France stage winner since 1988

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Vingegaard continues to keep his Tour de France strategy rolling along, for a triumph in Paris. (Photo: A.S.O/Charly Lopez, Pauline Ballet, Jered & Ashley Gruber)
Vingegaard continues to keep his Tour de France strategy rolling along, for a triumph in Paris. (Photo: A.S.O/Charly Lopez, Pauline Ballet, Jered & Ashley Gruber)

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 attacked relentlessly, but the Dane Vingegaard skipped up and rode on his tailwind every time.

Tour de France
Pogacar attacked Vingegaard relentlessly. The defending champion knows that few stages remain, before the finish in Paris. (Photo: A.S.O/Charly Lopez, Pauline Ballet, Jered & Ashley Gruber)

A day too hot, for some

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.

Heat punished riders unaccustomed to riding in extreme temperatures. 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.

Tour de France
The first Tour de France stage win in more than three decades, for a Canadian. (Photo: A.S.O/Charly Lopez, Pauline Ballet, Jered & Ashley Gruber)

The stage win with deeper meaning

A group of eight riders broke away, passing a Canadian Mountie in full dress uniform, boding well for IST rider Houle. The Canadian rider 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 an emotional Houle of his younger sibling Pierrik who was killed by a hit-and-run driver a decade ago.

"He went to run in the snow and was hit and left dead by the roadside. It took me three hours to find him.

"It was my dream to win a stage of the Tour de France since he left us," added Houle who had started competing in triathlon with his brother before devoting himself to cycling.

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.

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