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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of. - Bruce Lee

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage 16 team reports

We'll start with stage winner Michael Matthew's Team Sunweb report:

Team Sunweb delivered an exceptional display of dedication and commitment to a shared goal today, as their control of the stage was rewarded with their third 2017 Tour de France victory at stage 16.

The Tour de France saw a Team Sunweb masterpiece today, with Michael Matthews (AUS) making it three for the team after sealing the victory in Romans sur Isere. Team Sunweb's intentions became clear in the early stages of the day with the team neutralising breakaways, setting the tempo at the front for its entirety, marking last minute attacks and positioning Matthews perfectly to finish off the job. A flawlessly timed sprint meant that Matthews could storm past his rivals to congratulate Team Sunweb's 185 kilometre magnificent performance with the stage 16 victory.

"Today our plan was open and we were prepared for different scenarios, as it was difficult to predict how the stage would unfold," explained Matthews. "Once we heard that there were splits in the peloton we were all really motivated to push on and extend the gap. From then on it was an eight-man team time trial to the finish and I was able to finish off the job in the last 500 metres. I'm so grateful for these opportunities and to take the win after the guys worked incredibly hard today is really special."

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews just wins stage 16

Team Sunweb's Tour de France coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "This is definitely a team victory today. We had nine guys that went full gas for the entire day and we can be extremely proud of the outcome. We knew that there could be a scenario where sprinters could dropped on the first climb and the team knew that if that was the case, they would go for it. It's a really impressive performance from the entire team and I'm pleased that Michael was able to finish off their hard work."

Edvald Boasson Hagen was second. Here's what his Dimension Data team had to say:

The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders put in an impressive performance on stage 16 of Tour de France, which took place on Mandela Day. The team was always attentive near the front and at the end, Edvald Boasson Hagen finished in second place after narrowly missing out on the victory.

Starting out with a 20 kilometers’ ascent, numerous riders attacked right from the beginning of the day. The fast pace proved too much for the green jersey, Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floor) who quickly got dropped. This prompted Team Sunweb to go to the front in order to pull for their designated sprinter, Michael Matthews. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Steve Cummings took part in the workload at the front of the peloton, which ultimately saw the group with Kittel getting dropped for good.

With today’s stage taking place on Mandela Day, the team was very motivated to do well. On the final 15 km, the peloton split up into several groups in the crosswind, leaving just a dozen of riders at the front. Boasson Hagen made the cut and so did Scott Thwaites and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.

Daniele Bennati (Movistar) tried to take the front group by surprise on the last two kilometers but Janse van Rensburg closed him down and delivered Boasson Hagen in a good position for the sprint. Unfortunately, the strong Norwegian lost a few positions in the final corners but thanks to a powerful sprint, he still managed to take second place, narrowly beaten by Matthews. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) was third.

Stage 16 finish

Another view of the sprint showing how close it was

Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished in the front group and thereby kept the yellow jersey for another day. Tomorrow, the riders will take on the first big stage in the Alps. 183 km and four difficult climbs await the peloton on their way from La Mure to Serre-Chevalier.

Edvald Boasson Hagen: “This was a really hard stage. The team did very well to keep me at the front all day. Everybody did such a great job. Unfortunately, in the last corner, I was a bit too far down. I knew I had to be at the front at that point but sometimes these things happen. I was probably the fastest rider on the last stretch and I almost made it. It’s a shame. This was a good chance for me”.

Chris Froome and Team Sky rode an impressive stage. Here's the Team Sky report:

Chris Froome looked comfortable in the crosswinds to retain Tour de France yellow as stage 16 produced an exciting finish.

Team Sky ensured the maillot jaune was perfectly positioned amid a nervous peloton and Froome was in a prime position as the bunch split apart with 15 kilometres to go. Strong winds buffeted the peloton for much of the day and, after work from Vasil Kiryienka and Michal Kwiatkowski, Froome and Mikel Landa were able to ride into the lead echelon and finish safely in a reduced bunch sprint.

With GC contenders Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) and Louis Meintjes (UAE-Fly Emirates) caught out and losing time on the day, Landa was able to jump back into fifth place overall, 1:17 behind his team-mate.

With chief rivals Fabio Aru (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) all able to make the lead split, Froome held station with a lead of 18 seconds.

At the finish it was Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) who took the sprint victory, on a day that saw the green jersey battle dictate the stage. Team Sky were able to sit back as Sunweb pushed hard from the off, taking advantage of an uphill start out of Le Puy-en-Velay to distance maillot vert Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), and ensuring a breakaway would not contest the victory.

Riding on the front foot also ensured Team Sky remained at the head of the team classification, extending their lead slightly to 10:07 over Ag2r-La Mondiale.
After the stage Froome admitted he was happy to come through the echelons without issue, and looked ahead to a huge double bill of mountain stages in the Alps.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome goes into the Alps in yellow.

He said: “It was quite a crazy stage. With the selection coming not long after that climb with 20 kilometres to go, it meant that quite a lot of the GC guys were actually quite far up in the bunch, ready for that split. So maybe there weren’t the biggest differences on the GC that we could have expected on a crosswind stage, but at the same time I think a few guys on the top 10 – Dan Martin, Louis Meintjes – did get caught out unfortunately for them.

“The rest of the GC guys all seemed there and willing to roll through to keep the positions at the front. I think for myself and Mikel Landa we were just glad to be on the right side of that split.

“I believe these next two days are the biggest consecutive days in this year’s Tour de France. It’s hard to say exactly how selective they will be, or whether it will be a case of the four of us who are all within half a minute just chasing each other’s shadows. Or it could be blown wide open – that still remains to be seen. But on the upside I think both myself and Mikel Landa are feeling great coming into this last week of the race. Certainly for me that was the goal for of my preparations for the Tour – to come into the third week feeling the way I’m feeling now. I’m quite looking forward these next few days in the Alps now.”

Here's BMC's stage 16 report:

18 July, 2017, Romans-sur-Isère (FRA): Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to fourth place on a chaotic stage 16 which saw crosswinds wreak havoc and a breakaway fail to form throughout the 165km stage.

Stefan Küng was the first rider to attack as soon as the flag was dropped at kilometer 0. A dozen riders followed suit but the peloton kept up the chase until the race was back together.

Multiple unsuccessful attacks followed, including one from Alessandro De Marchi, but a split in the peloton on the first catgegorized climb saw Team Sunweb take control of the race and work to increase the gap between the two groups.

The fast pace set at the front of the bunch meant no breakaway could go away and with points on offer at the late intermediate sprint, it was a battle of the sprinters' teams before the chase group sat up and allowed the gap to move out to more than six minutes.

Crosswinds in the final 20km split the peloton and created a leading group of 25 or so riders, with Van Avermaet joined by Damiano Caruso, Stefan Küng, Nicolas Roche and Michael Schär.

The gap to the two chase groups behind began to increase and with 5km to go, Van Avermaet's group had a 500-meter advantage on the second group which featured two of the top ten riders on the General Classification.

Van Avermaet launched his sprint with 400 meters to go and led the sprint 250 meters before the line, but was passed by eventual winner Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).

Van Avermaet settled for fourth place while Caruso's presence in the front group saw him move up to ninth on the General Classification, just five seconds off eighth place.

Greg Van Avermaet:

"It was a really hard stage all day long. I'm happy with how we rode. I think everyone was always in the front and we were never surprised which is how you have to be in these kinds of races. So I'm really proud of the team. Ok, we didn't win but I think the most important thing is that you do everything right and then the result will also be pretty nice. I think it was a pretty hectic final. I didn't know the corners very well. You can look in the book but I was a bit surprised that it was such a hard corner and I had to brake a little bit harder than expected. I think with the head wind it was really hard but I tried."

Damiano Caruso:

"Yesterday I talked with the directors and they said that tomorrow there is going to be wind. So I thought that maybe it would be possible that there would be gaps in the last 20km. This is what happened. It was a good day for us. We're still missing a victory but it is good that we improved our position on GC."

Nicolas Roche:

"To be honest, today was a stage where I said it doesn't matter how much experience I have, I have no idea how it is going to turn out. Any scenario could have happened and this was one that we didn't really talk about but it happened two years ago in the Tour. We had a chat about it this morning and we said "let's really stay in the front just in case and let's go after the climb" but Team Sky did it. At least we were in position and we helped the move go as far as possible for two reasons: because Damiano was there and we could pick up some seconds and two, because Greg was there and it was a great finish for him."

White Jersey Simon Yates' Orica-Scott team sent me this update:

British climber Simon Yates has strengthened his general classification position, moving up to sixth overall, after crosswinds caused a late split on stage 16 of the Tour de France today.

The 24-year-old ORICA-SCOTT rider made the winning move in the last 20km, alongside the yellow jersey of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and stage winner Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), as others such as Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors) fell short.

Fellow white jersey contender Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates) also missed the split which saw Yates extend his stranglehold on the best young rider competition to almost four minutes.

“I felt good and I had good legs again today,” Yates declared. “I’ve been getting better with each day.”

“The team did a fantastic job today, they were always around me and had me in the right position at all of the crucial moments so I didn’t have to do a lot at all. Jens Keukeleire did a really fantastic job for me when it really started to split there in the wind and once I made that front group I was in a good position. In the end it was a perfect day.”

Chris Froome

Simon Yates (on the right front, in white) finished with Froome.

ORICA-SCOTT sport director Matt White echoed Yates’ sentiments on the team. “We had good information and we knew where we had to be and when,” White said. “The whole team did a great job of keeping Simon safe and in the right place as you could see.”

“This Tour de France has shown that everything can change in a second and with the top riders so close on the GC, we are happy to be up there fighting amongst them.”

How it happened:

Crosswinds posed their biggest threat of this year’s Tour de France on stage 16 and the peloton was understandably nervous. There was a number of attempted breakaways in the first 50km, including moves containing ORICA-SCOTT’s Michael Albasini and Daryl Impey, but neither managed to gain more than 30seconds advantage and were shortly shut done.

A furious pace, set mostly by stage winners Team Sunweb, saw the bunch remain relatively compact for the next 100km before the action picked up again in the final 20km.

Team Sky took over on the front and their pressure split the bunch to form a lead group of around 25 riders. Matthews took the reduced bunch sprint as those behind the split rued the missed opportunity and time loss.

Marcel Kittel and Dan Martin ride for Quick-Step Floors. Here's the team's stage 16 report:

Early fierce attacks, crosswinds, full-throttle action and gaps in the general classification, stage 16 (Le Puy-en-Velay – Romans-sur-Isère, 165 kilometers) of the Tour de France had it all. The rapid tempo led to many riders being dropped from the peloton, among them also Marcel Kittel, who once he lost contact with the main group rode his own pace until the finish, where he made his daily visit to the podium to don again the prestigious green jersey he wears since last week.

With five stages to go, the German holds a 29-point lead over Tuesday's winner, Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), but is determined to fight until the very end, despite the gap coming down and the fact the team will continue in seven riders after Philippe Gilbert was forced to abandon due to a viral gastroenteritis: "It is as it is. I can't change any of the things that happened today. The stage suited Matthews better with that tough uphill start, where I lost contact. But I won't think of the points I lost today, although I'm not happy with this, I'll just focus on the next stages and take it day by day."

The stage was affected by severe crosswinds in the final 20 kilometers, with strong gusts of wind splintering the peloton on the roads to Romans-sur-Isère, a town which last year featured on the course of the 2016 Paris-Nice. Unfortunately, Dan Martin was among the riders caught on the wrong side of these crosswinds and conceded 51 seconds by the finish, a loss which moved him down to seventh in the overall standings.

"It was a really tough stage and we suffered out there. It was difficult without Matteo and Philippe, who were forced to say goodbye to the race earlier. Their presence would have probably made the difference today. Can't say it's the best situation for us, but the team is upbeat and optimistic about our chances now that the race is heading into the Alps for two days", said Dan Martin at the finish of stage 16.

You might enjoy this video about one of our Tour de France books:

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