Bagneres-de-Luchon, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Rogers of Australia won Stage 16 of the Tour de France on Tuesday, while Italy's Vincenzo Nibali kept his stranglehold on the yellow jersey as the overall leader of cycling's most prestigious event.
Rogers finished the longest stage of this year's tour -- a 237.5 kilometer mountain trek from Carcassonne -- in a time of 6 hours, 7 minutes and 10 seconds, nine seconds in front of Frenchman Thomas Voeckler. It was Rogers' first stage win in his 10 years of riding in the Tour de France.
"No one was going to beat me today," said Rogers, who won a pair of stages during this year's Giro d'Italia.
The group featuring Nibali was well behind the stage winner on the first of three days in the Pyrenees. However, the overall leaders were bunched together and finished more than 8 1/2 minutes behind Rogers.
Nibali placed 20th, two spots behind his nearest pursuer in the overall classification, Alejandro Valverde of Spain. Valverde remains 4 minutes and 37 seconds behind Nibali with just five stages remaining in this year's Tour. Frenchman Thibaut Pinot moved up one spot into third place overall and is 5:06 off the lead pace.
"Once we reached the ascent to Port de Bales, I paid attention because Valverde was the most dangerous in my mind," said Nibali. "When Pinot attacked, I went to catch him straight away. I didn't let the gap grow."
After the second and final rest day in this year's Tour, the riders faced five climbs on Tuesday and a group of 21 riders broke away early. That group was trimmed to three by the final ascent up the Port de Bales.
It was a downhill finish from the top and Rogers made his move on Cyril Gautier and Voeckler with about 4 1/2 kilometers remaining, cruising to the wire with neither of the Europcar teammates close. Gautier finished fifth with the same time as Voeckler, Vasili Kiryienka and Jose Serpa.
"I knew Voeckler would be hard to beat," said Rogers.
Meanwhile, the overall leaders remained bunched, although Frenchman Romain Bardet and American Tejay Van Garderen could not keep up. Bardet was third entering the stage, but finished nearly two minutes behind the yellow jersey on Tuesday and dropped to fifth, while Van Garderen lost an additional two minutes and fell from fifth to sixth overall -- 9:25 behind Nibali.
"I just didn't have the legs," said Van Garderen. "I'm really hoping I can bounce back and recover the legs I had in the Alps. It's not finished yet. We have three hard GC days to come, I'm hoping to bounce back."
Stage 17 on Wednesday is the shortest of the Tour, aside from Saturday's time trial. It is only 124.5 kilometers from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet and features a trio of Category 1 climbs prior to a finish of the highest category.