A summary of the Tour de France – Third (Final) Week
After fourteen stages in France we now have a clearer idea of who will win what in this years Tour de France. Chris Froome took an advantage of 3 minutes over Nairo Quintana before we visited the Alps. Trek’s Bauke Mollema capped an impressive first fortnight at the tour by starting the final week in second place just in front of Orica BIKEexchange’s Adam Yates. Peter Sagan’s strangehold of the green jersey continued despite the efforts of Mark Cavendish. Rafal Majka lead the KOM classification as big rival Thibaut Pinot had to leave the race due to illness. Majka also benefitted from the departure of team captain, Alberto Contador. Meaning his domestiqué duties were no longer required and he could race his own race. Adam Yates started week three in the white jersey of the Young rider classification over 3 minutes ahead of South African Louis Meintjes of Lampré Merida. 184 riders started week three on the startline of stage 15 in Bourg-en-Bresse.
Winner: Jarlison Pantano (IAM Cycling)
184 riders started week three on the startline of stage 15 in Bourg-en-Bresse. Jens Debuscchere of Lotto Soudal was a non starter. A 30-man breakaway made it up the road early doors, with names such as Nibali (Astana) and Dumoulin(Giant-Alpecin) looking for glory.Dumoulin tried an early attack, going up the road with 70km to go and was chased down by Nibali, Pantano and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2r).The group of four was soon caught by a splintered breakaway, with Dumoulin and Nibali unable to keep up with the renewed pace. Majka and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) sped off up the Grand Colombier, with the Polish champion taking the King of the Mountains points at the top. In the peloton Bardet attacked the group, with Sky seemingly happy for himt o do so, this was due to Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) struggling to keep the pace of the group. As Majka went solo leaving Zakarin, he collected more KOM points and was started to be chased down by Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) ,Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJr) and Jarlison Pantano (IAM Cycling). Pantano attacked on the last decent, and after Majka over cooked a corner on the decent, Pantano soon caught the Polish Tinkoff rider. The pair then decended to the line together. Majka started the games of cat and mouse up front with Pantano before starting his sprint first. But the Colombian bided his time and took the shorter line to the finish to beat the Pole to the stage win, although Majka does take a firm lead in the polka dot jersey.
Winner: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
The stage saw 209 kilometres from Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne being covered. The peloton headed into Switzerland and crossed the border midway through the stage. Lots of people were expecting a re-ignition of the springs classic battles between Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff). The stage again started with a minutes silence. After a franatic first hour the break was formed of two Etixx-Quickstepp riders in Julian Alaphillipe and time trial specialist Tony Martin. They were chased in the peloton by Lotto Soudal, Katusha and Direct Energie. The peloton allowed a counter attack to go which was made up of Lawson Craddock (Cannondale-Drapac), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Timo Roosen (Lotto NL – Jumbo). The chasers were eventually caught just after the race entered Switzerland. Tinkoff came to the front as the break started to decrease. Team Dimension Data took to the front of the peloton lead by Steve Cummings, who a year ago to the day had won a mountainous stage at the race on Mandela day. The break was caught after 173 kilometres at the front of the race. As the Etixx duo were caught, Rui Costa (Lampré) set off with a solo attack. He maintained a 10 seconds lead going into the final 10km, although was caught with 4 kilometres to go by a peloton lead by IAM Cycling. As the peloton got nearer to the finish line Giant Alpecin lead the reduced peloton, where an uphill sprint broke out. Were in Sagan claimed his 3rd stage victory of this years tour, beating Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) into second and young Norwegian Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) into third. Bern hero Fabian Cancellara finished 6th in the uphill sprint.
The second rest day of the tour let us look back on the previous 16 stages and digest the events of the last few days. The rest day saw Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Rohan Dennis (BMC) both withdrew from the 2016 Tour de France, both to focus on the Rio Olympics.
Winner: Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha)
The day after rest day and the day Colombia celebrated its declaration of independence – 206 years ago. After 63km of frantic riding saw the days break away go made up of: Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Tanel Kangert (Astana), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), Steve Morabito (FDJ), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept). Previous attacks had tried to get away but to no success. Tinkoff took full advantage of the break with Majka taking the points atop both of the category 3 climbs on the stage and Peter Sagan taking the intermediate sprint points. Shortly after dropping out of the breakaway back into the peloton. With 28km to go Lotto Soudal’s Tony Gallopin attacked the group with Alexey Lutsenko of Astana the only rider to follow him. 4km later Lutsenko launched his own solo attack on the ascent of Col de la Forclaz. He was reeled in with 20 km to go. Tejay Van Garderen of BMC cracked in the chasing peloton. The stage saw two abandonments with Nairo Quintana’s domestique Gorka Izagirre leaving the tour with a suspected broken collarbone and Borut Bozic of Confidis Strangely Astana started working in the peloton alongside Movistar and Sky despite having two riders in the break. Rafal Majka then scored ten more points at the col de la Forclaz, to add an extra 10 points to his lead over the King of the mountains classification. The pace of the chasing pack soon caused Pierre Rolland, Geraint Thomas and Jakob Fuglsang to be distanced. On the decent of the Col de la Forclaz Majka and Pantano forged ahead (in scenes similar to stage 15). Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha) took off to catch the duo, when the Russian caught the pair he went straight pass them. Majka couldn’t keep up and left Jarlison Pantano to bridge over to Zakarin. Zakarin then distanced the Colombian. He powered into the last kilometre by himself to take the stage victory. This was the 26 year olds first victory on the Tour, in winning stage 17 he also took maximum points at the summit before collapsing off his bike just after the finish line. Pantano came second moments later and Majka third not to long afterwards. Back in the pack Dan Martin briefly attacked the Yellow jersey group before being brought back by a group led by Astana, Sky and Movistar. Porte attacked the group who was soon followed by Chris Froome, Mikel Nieve and Nairo Quintana, dropping second place Bauke Mollema. Chris Froome then distanced his team-mate Nieve and Quintana to reach Porte. Adam Yates caught up to Quintana, before putting in a devastating attack to distance the Colombian rider. The gap between Froome and Quintana grew to around 15 seconds. Froome crossed the line behind Porte and gained 8secs on Adam Yates, 28secs on Quintana. and 40secs on second place Bauke Mollema.
Stage 18 (TT)
Winner: Chris Froome (Team Sky)
The Stage started with the news Fabian Cancellara had left his last tour (to focus on the Rio Olympics time trial). He left with an emotional message to the fans on his social media accounts. Shane Archibold (AKA the flying mullet) also left the tour, with a broken Pelvic (riding through to the finish of stage 17 with the injury). The injury was caused in the same crash which made Borut Bozic abandon.As many expected the stage came down to a battle between Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) and the Maillot jaune Chris Froome (Team Sky). Dumoulin went out first and set an impressive time of 31’04. The lead was untouched throughout the closing stages until the last starter of the day, Chris Froome took off. Despite being slower at the first two time checks, Froome’s pace increased in the second half to claim his second stage win. Chris Froome won the mountain time trial stage of the 2016 Tour de France to extend his overall lead to nearly four minutes, leading many to call that the GC battle was done and dusted with 2 stages (excluding Paris) still to go.
Winner: Roman Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)
The 146 km stage included one category 1 climb, a category 2 climb a HC category climb and a summit finish. The break was formed before the days intermediate sprint which was won by Michael Matthews of OriceBIKEexchange. The break of the day was formed including Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Robert Kiserlovski and King of the mountain leader Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Markus Burghardt and Amaël Moinard (BMC), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Laurens ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin), Emmanuel Buchman (Bora-Argon 18), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange), Eduardo Sepulveda and Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept). Thomas De Gendt beat Rafal Majka to the maximum points atop of Col De La Forclaz De Montmin, securing 10 points. Markus Burghardt (BMC) was the first rider to be dropped by the breakaway group, although later making it back to the lead group. The second climb was category two climb with 5 points on offer, with Thomas De Gendt taking the maximum points and Rafal Majka taking second place (and three points). Adam Yates had a mechanical and had to make it back to lead group wth the help of two team mates, as did Joaquim Rodriguez who had another mechanical. During the ascent of the days HC climb Montée de Bisanne Tom Dumoulin crashed in the pack, injuring his hand. Tejay Van Garderen was dropped from the elite group on the climb. Shortly after Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) was the 22nd rider to abandon the Tour with a broken wrist. With the HC climb, De Gendt was dropped and Majka soloed to the top of Montée de Bisanne. Confirming him as the winner of the 2016 King of the Mountains competition. Richie Porte was dropped due to a mechanical and had to fight his way back to the part, as the rain came down on stage 19, many riders hit the road including Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) crashing whilst in the lead an 13th placed Sébastien Reichenbach (FDJ). Rolland was in the lead with Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) when he crashed, Rolland’s crash lead to Costa being in the lead alone with Navarro setting off in pursuit. Daniel Navarro then crashed on the wet roads leading to the Confidis rider leaving the Tour due to injury. The rain saw two major crashes that of second place overall Bauke Mollema and Overall leader Chris Froome. Both quickly recovered with the help of there respective teammates. Chris Froome had to use Geraint Thomas bike causing some difficulty for The Sky leader. Roman Bardet then launched a solo attack bridging to Ag2R La Mondiale teammate Mikel Cherel. The pair then set off in pursuit of Rui Costa. With just under 8 kilometres to go Bardet joined Costa in the lead. With 5km to go Bardet and Costa had a 40 seconds lead over the GC Group with Poels supporting Froome at the head of the group. The GC Group consisted of Froome, Henao, Landa, Poels (Team Sky), Quintana, Valverde, I. Izagirre, Moreno (Movistar), Aru, Rosa (Astana), Kreuziger (Tinkoff), Porte, Caruso (BMC), Barguil (Giant), Rodriguez (Katusha), Meintjes (Lampre), D. Martin (Etixx), Yates (Orica), with Bauke Mollema (trek) 1.30 down on the group, leaving Bardet virtually 2nd in the overall competition. Dan Martin launched an attack on the group, as Bardet attacked Costa and distanced him with 3.2km to go! Leading to Richie Porte attacking the group quickly followed by Nairo Quintana. As the group sped up in response to the attacks, Adam Yates was dropped from the select group of riders. Dan Martin was reeled in by the group with around 2km to go. Porte attacked again, with Quintana following again. Poels and Froome managed to contain all of the attacks from the GC group as Bardet entered the final kilometre. Roman Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale claimed his second Tour de France stage victory. The victory was the first for France and AG2R La Mondiale at this years Tour. Behind Bardet the GC group rolled across the line, 22 seconds later with Rodgriquez beating Valverede for second place, with Froome and Poels rolling in thirteen seconds later. Froome riding a brave ace to retain his yellow jersey despite his nasty crash. The stage saw Bauke Mollema losing nearly 4 minutes to Chris Froome.
Winner: Jon Izagirre (Movistar)
A Rain soaked stage saw the last real battle for the podium. Astana headed the peloton for the second day running, despite having Vincenzo Nibali up the road in the breakaway. The presence of Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) in the break was a danger to Fabio Aru‘s high placing in the general classification, but Nibali was often driving the pace higher. The break was made up of Sergio Henao (Sky), Imanol Erviti, Ion Izagirre and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Peter Sagan and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff), Ben Gastauer, Cyril Gautier and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Wilco Kelderman and George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo), Frank Schleck and Jasper Stuyven (Trek), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Pierre Rolland, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale), Patrick Konrad (Bora), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Sylvain Chavanel and Fabrice Jeandesbosz (Direct Energie), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Chris Juul-Jensen and Michael Matthews (Orica). Aru cracked on the lower slopes of the Col de Joux Plane, giving Nibali a licence to attack the two riders off the front of the breakaway – Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step), who went away on the descent of the Col de la Ramaz.With Nibali on the chase, Alaphilippe attacked again to try and distance Pantano with 5.5km to go on the climb, but the Colombian wasn’t prepared to give up that easily.Izagirre moved up to Pantano and Alaphilippe and attacked straight past them; only the Colombian was able to stay with him as he charged down Nibali. He passed them both and Jon Izagirre won the stage with some brilliant descending. Back in the group Joaquim Rodgriquez of Katusha attacked the group to try and improve his placing in the top ten, in his final Tour. Many of the main group attacked but non could put any time into Chris Froome.
Winner: Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
175 finishers is a record number. It means only 23 riders pulled out but it includes some of the biggest names: Alberto Contador, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Thibaut Pinot, Rohan Dennis, Tom Dumoulin, Dani Navarro and Simon Gerrans, for various reasons, injury, sickness and preparation of the Olympic Games. Seven teams have reached Paris with their entire line up: Sky, Astana, AG2R-La Mondiale, LottoNL-Jumbo, Lampre-Merida, Etixx-Quick Step and Fortuneo-Vital Concept. After the celebrations of Froome and his Sky teammates (drinking various different types of alcohol) The true race started with Joaquim Rodriguez, 7th of his last Tour de France at the age of 37, has had the green light from the peloton to enter the Champs-Elysées alone in the lead. After that the days break was formed of Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lawson Craddock (Cannondale-Drapac), Markus Burghardt (BMC), Daniel Teklehaimanot (DiData), Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Jan Barta (Bora), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept). Marcel Kittel suffered a mechanical and lost lots of time on the peloton, he also lost key lead out man Tony Martin (due to him abandoning with a knee injury). He eventually got back onto the peloton, which was led by Direct Energie with 20km to go. Amazingly Luke Rowe and Wout Poels set off for Yellow jersey team Sky with 20km to go, and they soon caught the break. After various attacks the peloton managed to control them and they entered the the finale as a group, unfortunately Direct Energie’s Bryan Coquard suffered a miss timed flat. As they entered the finale the trains took control delivering the sprinters to the front with Andre Greipel once again winning on the Champs, to rescue his Tour.
Chris Froome (Team Sky)
Team Sky completely dominated this tour winning with over a four minute advantage over second place Roman Bardet. Chris Froome was the king in the mountains, time trials and flat stages, building his advantage over his rivals on all stage styles. His team was a key factor with his arsenal of Super domestiques in Landa, Thomas, Nieve, Henao and the most consistent of them all Wout Poels. Kiryienka sacrificed his TT chances to conserve energy to help shepherd Froome on the flat rouds alongside Stannard and Rowe.
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
Pola-dot Jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)
White Jersey: Adam Yates (OricaBIKEexcahnge)