The stage was set for Lennard Kämna (Bora–Hansgrohe) to take his first-ever stage win on the fifteenth day of the Tour de France. He had a teammate up the road in Maximilian Schachmann, and a free ride on the wheel of Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling). After dispatching what remained of the day’s breakaway, the trio were on their way to the finish atop Le Puy Mary, a steep 5.4km climb with gradients topping 20 percent. Martínez – with Kämna on his wheel – caught Schachmann with just under 2km to go, and now it was Kämna’s stage to lose. The 24-year-old German tried and tried, but he couldn’t drop Martínez off his wheel. In the final meters, Martínez sprinted ahead to take the stage win, while Kämna and Schachmann trailed in for second and third on the day. A day of perfect tactics but imperfect legs, and an opportunity missed for Bora–Hansgrohe.
A few days later, Kämna was in the break again, this time alongside the likes of Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb), Andrey Amador and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), and more. Stage 16 finished at Villard de Lans, just 21 kilometers from the final major climb of the day, the Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte. It was on this final climb that Kämna made his move, countering a wave of surges from Carapaz to solo away on the final descent. By the finish, Kämna had put nearly a minute and half into Carapaz, and the young German punched the air as he crossed the line to take his first Tour de France stage victory.
The fight for the breakaway was as tough as ever – a mountainous day lacking a mountaintop finish means that the breakaway has a high chance of succeeding, and Kämna knew this as he joined the first significant break of the day after about 20km.
Kämna – fight for the breakaway:
Average Power: 338w (5.1w/kg)
Normalized Power: 365w (5.5w/kg)
Peak 3min Power: 429w (6.5w/kg)
Peak 1min Power: 517w (7.8w/kg)
While the front group solidified its gap over the peloton, a number of small chase groups made it across to the breakaway, eventually leaving 23 riders out front who would go on to contest for the stage win. On the first major climb of the day, the category 2 Col de Porte, Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) jumped away from his breakaway companions to secure some more mountain points in his bid for the polka dot jersey. With the gap to the peloton nine minutes and growing, there was no real need for Kämna and the majority of the break to push the pace on this climb with still nearly 100km to go.
Kämna – Col de Porte:
Average Power: 322w (4.9w/kg)
After an 80+kph descent down into Domène, the break hit the next climb of the day, another category 2 in the Côte de Revel. Kämna’s effort was nearly the exact same as on the Col de Porte: just over 20 minutes at ~4.9w/kg.
Kämna – Côte de Revel:
Average Power: 319w (4.8w/kg)
The success of a breakaway is rarely determined by the strength of an individual rider and more often the collective strength of their whole. Eight riders working together will beat a singular rider 99 percent of the time (exceptions being Søren Kragh Andersen and Marc Hirschi), and 23 riders will usually out-run the peloton. On this stage, we can see how well the breakaway collaborated all the way up until the final major climb – the Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte – when the energy saved became energy expended as attacks flew and only the strongest survived.
The breakaway began the Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte with 34km to go, and after just a few kilometers, less than 10 men remained. The 7 percent and 8 percent gradients quickly took their toll, and halfway up there were only five riders left: Kämna, Alaphilippe, Carapaz, Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept), and Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama–FDJ). Pacher was already suffering when Carapaz attacked for the first time, but Alaphilippe quickly jumped across the gap. The Frenchman danced on the pedals with the same legs that led him to an emotional victory on Stage 2; but moments later, Alaphilippe was going backward, spinning in the little ring, a grimace forming under his mustache, and the world wondering what went wrong.
Kämna came across the gap, with Reichenbach lingering just a few meters behind. As soon as the Swiss champ made it back, Carapaz went again, dropping Reichenbach for good. Kämna stayed in the Ecuadorian’s wheel, waiting patiently as last year’s Giro d’Italia winner mashed on the pedals. With just a few hundred meters to go, Kämna attacked, coming around Carapaz at over 40kph and never looking back. Carapaz was riding strong, but didn’t have the extra punch to close the gap – 10 meters to Kämna’s wheel quickly became 20, then 30, then 100 meters… and soon the Bora–Hansgrohe rider was out of sight.
Kämna – Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte:
Average Power: 367w (5.6w/kg)
Average Power: 420w (6.4w/kg)
Max Power: 889w (13.5w/kg)
You can see the three wattage spikes in Kämna’s power chart in the final 2km of the climb – first, following Carapaz’s attack, then holding on during the acceleration that dispatched Reichenbach, and finally Kämna’s counter-attack that sent him solo over the top of the climb.
Kämna went into time trial mode as the road dipped down towards Lans-en-Vercors. The breakaway had split into pieces, and now it was every man for himself. Kämna continued to put time into Carapaz, holding nearly the same wattage as he did on the climb but now at over 55kph. When he hit the bottom of the final 2.5-kilometer climb to Villard-de-Lans, Kämna didn’t let up despite having over a minute’s lead on Carapaz.
Kämna – Montée de Saint-Nizier to the finish of stage 16:
Average Power: 357w (5.4w/kg)
Final climb to Villard-de-Lans:
Average Power: 382w (5.8w/kg)
After a near-miss only a few days before, Lennard Kämna crossed the line first to win stage 16 of the Tour. A month prior, the 24-year-old had never won a professional race – now he has a stage win at the Critérium du Dauphiné and also the Tour de France.
Kämna – Tour de France stage 16:
Time: 4hrs 26min 54sec
Elevation Gain: 3,590m (11,778 ft.)
Average Power: 2,77w (4.2w/kg)
Normalized Power: 311w (4.7w/kg)