Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagnères-de-Luchon
Thomas Voeckler wins stage 16, Tour de France 2012
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) soloed to take his second stage of this year's Tour de France in Bagnères-de-Luchon this afternoon, and with it the lead in the King of the Mountains classification.
Voeckler broke clear on the stage's final climb, the Col de Peyresourde, having been in a day-long breakaway. As well as the stage win, he took maximum points on the day's four-categorised climbs to move into the polka dot jersey tomorrow.
However, the story of the day came in the collapse of defending Tour champion Cadel Evans, who finished 4-48 behind race leader Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Liquigas-Cannondale's Vincenzo Nibali.
Evans cracked under Team Sky's pace on the Col d'Aspin and, despite rejoining the peloton before the Peyresourde, the Australian was distanced permanently after the combined efforts of Liquigas and Lotto-Belisol. He slips to seventh overall, over eight minutes behind Wiggins, with even a podium finish looking unlikely.
A group of 38 riders broke clear 20km in to the day's 197km stage, although the efforts of Irishman Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) split the breakaway up on the Col du Tourmalet. King of the Mountains leader Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) was in the group, as was Voeckler, who was clearly after snatching the polka dot jersey away from the Dane.
Towards the top of the climb, Martin, Voeckler and Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun) distanced their remaining rivals. Martin then paid for his efforts as the two French riders dropped him at the top of the Tourmalet.
Voeckler and Feillu worked well together, but the former showed his strength when he attacked his breakaway companion on the Peyresourde with 21km remaining. Feillu was then caught and passed by Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Gorka Iziguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alexandre Vinokourov, who themselves had been in the original breakaway.
Sorensen hovered around a minute behind Voeckler, but the Frenchman pushed hard on the 16km-long descent in Bagnères-de-Luchon to seal another impressive victory.
Even though Evans was distanced, Nibali was not content to merely settle for third place overall. He attacked on the higher slopes of the Peyresourde, which was enough to shell everyone but Wiggins and Froome out. Once the Sky duo had caught him, Nibali chanced his arm once again, but the Brits weren't in a forgiving mood. They rode into the finish together, crossing the line 7-08 behind Voeckler.
BMC decided not to pull white jersey leader Tejay Van Garderen back to work for Evans, and not only did the American finish within a minute of the Wiggins group, he moved ahead of his team-mate on GC. He retains his lead in that classification, as does Peter Sagan in the points competition.
Speaking afterwards, Wiggins said: "It was hot out there today. As a team, we passed the test again. It was the ideal scenario, putting more time into Cadel. [Nibali] is a class bike rider; you never underestimate him. But it's nice to finish with him. Tomorrow's another day, another challenge."
Tour de France 2012, stage 16: Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, 197km
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar in 5-35-02
2. Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at 1-40
3. Gorka Iziguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3-22
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at st
5. Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-06
6. Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan at 4-18
7. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 6-08
8. Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre-ISD
9. Gianpaulo Caruso (Ita) Katusha all at st.
10. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 6-11
11. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 7-09
12. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
13. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky all at st.
35. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 11-56
General classification after stage 16
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky in 74-15-32
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 2-05
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2-23
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 5-46
5. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan at 7-13
6. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 7-55
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 8-06
8. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana at 9-09
9. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 10-10
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat at 11-43
11. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 11-47
George Hincapie and crash injury
Thomas Voeckler and Brice Feillu
Vincenzo Nibali attacks
Bradley Wiggins, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome
Thomas Voeckler wins his second 2012 Tour stage
Bradley Wiggins (right) and Chris Froome nullified Vincenzo Nibali's attacks
Bradley Wiggins safely keeps lead for another day
Frank Schleck positive for banned substance at Tour
Rest day review (July 17)
Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees
Sprinters' teams unwilling to work on stage 15
Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack
Froome not winning this year's Tour is 'very great sacrifice'
Frank Schleck criticises 'boring' Tour de France
Wiggins: Cycling's new boss?
Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank's Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 16 by Graham Watson
Stage 15 by Graham Watson
Stage 14 by Graham Watson
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever