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O Canada! Hugo Houle the first Canadian to win a Tour de France stage since 1988

Michael Woods third on incredible day for Israel-Premier Tech.

Hugo Houle wins a stage of the Tour de France

It took 34 years, but Hugo Houle became the first Canadian to win a stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday’s first day in the Pyrenees. He dedicated the win to his deceased brother. Houle joins Steve Bauer, his directeur sportif in the car, as the only Canadians to accomplish this. Tadej Pogačar took the race to yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard on the first of two Cat. 1 ascents, but there was little in the way of movement in the GC, although Romain Bardet’s podium bid suffered a sharp blow.

You can watch the 2022 Tour de France at FloBikes.

The Course

Although it didn’t have the summit finishes of Wednesday and Thursday’s stages, Tuesday’s Pyrenean fare wasn’t stingy. Two Cat. 1 climbs came in the final third of 178.5 km. The final ascent, Mur de Péguère, crested with 27 km from the finish in Foix, and its last 3.6 km was at 11.4 percent. Another broiling day for the peloton.

An immense breakaway dashed away early. It its 29-strong ranks were Hugo Houle and Michael Woods, seven Frenchmen, 11th place Alexandr Vlasov and Wout Van Aert. It held a 6:00 lead with 68 km raced.

That man Houle was at it again on Tuesday.

At the foot of the first Cat. 1, Port de Lers, the fugitive mob had a 7:30 advantage. Surely gravity would whittle it down. Damiano Caruso attacked immediately. Two Michaels, Woods and Storer, lit out after him.

Woods and Storer bridge to Caruso on the Port de Lers.

In the yellow jersey group, 10th place Enric Mas of Movistar surged away with two teammates. Van Aert and three others including King of the Mountains leader Simon Geschke joined the Woods trio before the peak. Geschke snagged a parcel of KOM points.

Pogačar made his first thrust but Vingegaard found his wheel. He tried again. When things were sewn up again, eighth place David Gaudu tried his luck. No soap. Fourth place Romain Bardet couldn’t hang with all the skirmishing. The Slovenian attempted to lose the Dane on the descent. Ineos Grenadiers chased them down.

Houle and a couple of others swelled the Woods group on the descent and then Houle went clear.

Mur de Péguère

Houle started up the Mur de Péguère with 30 seconds over Tony Gallopin and 52 seconds ahead of a Woods quintet. The yellow jersey peloton was much larger after the descent.

On the steepest part of the climb, Storer, Woods and Matteo Jorgenson were 40 seconds behind Houle, Woods not having to pull.

Movistar powered the yellow jersey group. Rafal Makja paced for Pogačar on the steepest part. This created a group of Pogačar, Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss, Nairo Quintana and Majka for about a kilometre until David Gaudu, Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates hauled themselves over. When Majka snapped his chain, Kuss took over and distanced several riders.

Jorgenson and Woods tipped over 26 seconds after Houle.

Houle crests 26 seconds ahead of Woods and Jorgenson.

The Climax

Thomas returned to Vingegaard, Pogačar, Kuss and Quintana just after the peak of the climb.

Jorgenson crashed on the drop and it took him a while to find Woods again. With 8 km to go, Houle’s gap 45 seconds. Canadian cycling fans were on the edge of their seats.

Houle pointed to the sky as he crossed the line. Incroyable! Houle’s exploits moved him up to 25th on the GC.

Wednesday is the first of two consecutive tough summit climbs, the Cat. 1 Peyragudes.

2022 Tour de France, Stage 16

1) Hugo Houle (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) 4:23:47
2) Valentin Maduoas (France/Groupama-FDJ) +1:10
3) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) s.t.
62) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +20:45
95) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +29:48

2022 Tour de France GC
1) Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark/Jumbo-Visma) 64:28:09
2) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) +2:22
3) Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Ineos) +2:43
26) Hugo Houle (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +1:09:21
36) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +1:21:51
71) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +2:26:32
131) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +3:29:36