Tuesday, July 18, 7:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. ET
This is a rather short stage, one that will prove more challenging than it seems because it traverses heavy country roads. The tough terrain could make the peloton nervous before they reach the Rhône valley. Some of the sprinters will struggle to cope with the very long false flat that leads to the finish.
Stage 16: Matthews wins photo finish; Martin loses time
For the third time this Tour de France, the stage came down to a photo finish, and Michael Matthews collected his second win in Romans-sur-Isère Tuesday. Sunweb’s speedy Aussie barely beat Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) at the line. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) was third in stage 16.
“To get another one in the same Tour de France …. Normally when I’m in tours I can only win one stage, and the second one is the hardest to get,” Matthews said. “I don’t really know. I think it won’t sink in until tomorrow morning.”
Sky’s Chris Froome kept the overall lead after the 165km race. However Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) slipped out of his fifth place GC standing. The Irishman missed a split that formed with 18km to go in the windy stage.
Stage 16, top 10
1. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) in 3h38:15.
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) at 0:00.
3. John Degenkolb (GER/TRE) 0:00.
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 0:00.
5. Christophe Laporte (FRA/COF) 0:00.
6. Jens Keukeleire (BEL/ORI) 0:00.
7. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LOT) 0:00.
8. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/LOT) 0:00.
9. Maciej Bodnar (POL/BOR) 0:00.
10. Romain Hardy (FRA/TFO) 0:00.
1. Christopher Froome (GBR/Sky) in 68h18:36.
2. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) at 0:18.
3. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:23.
4. Rigoberto Uran (COL/CAN) 0:29.
5. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 1:17.
6. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 2:02.
7. Daniel Martin (EIR/QST) 2:03.
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA/EAU) 6:00.
9. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 6:05.
10. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 6:16.
Matthews said he tried to go in the day’s breakaway to continue chasing points. Quick-Step wouldn’t let him go, keen to protect Marcel Kittel’s lead in the green jersey.
However, the Belgian team couldn’t help its German sprinter stay in touch on the day’s second climb, a Cat. 4 trip up the Col du Rouvey.
When Sunweb realized Kittel was dropped at top of the first climb, it sensed opportunity.
“We took it from the word go, attacking the whole climb to make it hard for Quick-Step to shut us down,” said Matthews. “I kept attacking on the first climb, I felt quite good and when I got to the top of climb I heard Kittel was distanced by almost a minute. I called the boys and they came to the front with big smiles on their faces and went full gas.”
Along the way, Matthews won the day’s intermediate sprint to inch closer to Kittel in the points classification.
Coming out of Châteauneuf-sur-Isère, 18km to go, Team Sky was on the front. Michal Kwiatkowski ramped up the pace on a slight hill and the peloton broke apart.
“It was a tough stage. Everyone knew it was going to split at some point,” said Froome. “We decided at 20 Ks to go, “Okay this is the right moment here.’ The guys anticipated it perfectly.”
Martin and Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) found themselves on the wrong side of the split.
Movistar’s Daniele Bennati tried a long-range attack with 2.2km to go. Matthews’s teammate Warren Barguil took up the chase, and with one kilometer to go, they caught the Italian.
BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet started the sprint early before a tricky right-left chicane.
Unperturbed, Matthews sat in the wheel and launched when the road straightened out. Facing a headwind, the 26-year-old faded slightly in the final. Degenkolb challenged on the right. Boasson Hagen came flying up the left side from sixth position. Neither could edge out Matthews at the line.
After stage 16, Matthews was 29 points behind Kittel in the green jersey competition.
Martin dropped from fifth place overall to seventh. He’ll have a chance to claw back time in the mountainous stage 17 Wednesday. The 183km race goes over four categorized climbs, two of which hors categorie, before descending to finish in Serre-Chevalier.