BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France -- The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal of doping suspicions won Stage 16 in a downhill breakaway.

Riding in his 10th Tour, three-time world champion Michael Rogers of Australia won his first Tour stage behind savvy racing, well-paced riding and the absence of his Tinkoff-Saxo Bank leader Alberto Contador. The Spaniard crashed out in Stage 10, inadvertently freeing up Rogers to go after the stage win.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali was still descending from the day's biggest climb, the Porte de Bales, as Rogers crossed and finished 81/2 minutes later. But the Italian looks even more likely to win the three-week race Sunday after keeping pace with possible contenders for the yellow jersey, and gaining time on two others.

One of the laggards was Tejay van Garderen. Unable to keep pace on the Port de Bales, the 25-year-old American was more than 31/2 minutes after Nibali. Van Garderen only slipped a spot in the standings, to sixth, but the gap to the rider ahead of him grew. The other laggard was France's Romain Bardet, who finished nearly two minutes back of Nibali.

Thibaut Pinot, however, kept pace with Nibali and replaced Bardet as France's top podium hopeful: He rose to third.


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For the second straight year, the race's entree to the Pyrenees has dented Van Garderen's podium ambitions.

"It's definitely disappointing," the American said. "I had high hopes for a podium and now it looks like it's taken a big hit ... I just didn't have the legs, I felt a bit empty.

"I'm just hoping I can bounce back and have a better day tomorrow."

A year ago, the Montana native lost more than 10 minutes to the main contenders, including Chris Froome who went on to win that Tour, as they rode up to the Ax 3 Domaines ski station on Stage 8. The year before, in his Tour debut, he lost seconds in the title quest during two Pyrenean stages, but still finished fifth overall and took home the white jersey given to the race's best young rider.

For Rogers, the 237.5-kilometer (147-mile) leg from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon was one of vindication and overdue Tour glory.