Michael Rogers wins his first Tour de France stage

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali retained his overall lead as the race heads towards Sunday’s conclusion

Michael Rogers won his first stage of cycling's Tour de France as Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained his overall lead.

Rogers won the 16th stage -- a 237.5 kilometre-long ride from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees -- in a time of 6 hours, 7 minutes, 10 seconds.

He broke away from a group of three riders 4.5 kilometres from the finish line during a long descent. "I tried so hard to win a stage of the Tour," Rogers from Australia said in a televised interview after winning the longest stage of this year's race.

"On that descent I said I've been in this position without winning. I decided either I'd crash or I'd win." Nibali has a 4-minute, 37-second lead over Spain's Alejandro Valverde in the overall classification.


The 29-year-old Astana rider has held the leader’s yellow jersey every day since winning the 10th stage.

He finished in a group 8:32 behind Rogers today. Romain Bardet, who was in third place in the general classification before today's race, dropped two spots after he struggled on the final climb over the Port de Bales.

Fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot moved up one spot into third place, at 5:06 back.

A breakaway group of 21 riders had started the race’s final climb over the Port de Bales, a 11.7 kilometre ascent at 7.7 percent.

Four kilometres from the top, a group of four -- including Team Europcar team mates Cyril Gautier and Thomas Voeckler, Rogers and Jose Serpa of Spain -- attacked and broke away.

After Serpa was first to reach the 1,755-metre peak ahead of Voeckler, Rogers got away from the top group after three- quarters of the 20-kilometer descent to the finish line.

The second of three Pyrenees stages continues tomorrow with a 124.5 kilometre race from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet. The Tour de France finishes in Paris on Sunday.