Emotional stage win for Canada's Houle

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'This one is for my brother', were the first words Hugo Houle said after crossing the finish line first in stage 16 of the Tour de France.

Houle, who also pointed to the skies as he reached the finish, was paying tribute to his brother Pierrik, who was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver in December 2012. The pair had spent their childhood together watching the Tour on television in Canada on summer mornings.

"I had a dream when I turned professional to win a stage for my brother," he said, his voice breaking. "I worked for 10-12 years, and now I got my win. It is incredible."

The first Canadian to win a stage since his Israel-PremierTech team's sports director Steve Bauer in 1988 Houle had broken away in the closing stages of the 179 km stage from Carcassonne to Foix.

He had been part of a 29-man group that got away early on a steaming hot first day in the Pyrenees as the Tour entered its final week.

Australia's Michael Storer, who finished fifth, one minute, 25 seconds behind, was part of the group, but none of the main general classification contenders were.

Race leader Jonas Vingegaard and closest challengers Tadej Pogacar and Geraint Thomas came in together, a little under six minutes after Houle crossed the line.

Pogacar had tried to attack on the first of the two category one climbs late in the stage, the Port de Lers, and then again on the descent. On neither occasion could he shake the yellow jersey-wearing Dane who remains two minutes, 22 seconds clear.

Houle crested the final climb, the Mur de Peguere, with an advantage of 26 seconds over Matteo Jorgenson and was holding that advantage on the descent into Foix when the American crashed with a little over 13 km to go.

Jorgenson, blood dripping from his elbow, got back on and caught Houle's team-mate and fellow Canadian Michael Woods, but had to settle for fourth, behind Valentin Madouas and Woods.

But the day belonged to Houle, who had found his brother, who had been jogging near their rural Quebec home, dying by the roadside.

Pierrik, three years his younger, had been studying to be a police officer.

The driver was jailed for 11 months but released after four.

"I never win a race," said Houle. "I guess this is the right place to win my first race. It was tight, but I never gave up."

With PA

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