Konrad is only the third Austrian to ever win a stage at the Tour, and he did so some two weeks after being caught in the pileup caused by a spectator holding a sign. The battle for the green jersey heated up with Michael Mathews and Sonny Colbrelli taking points at the intermediate sprint and in the final, while Mark Cavendish was some distance back, in the groupetto.
And, in a hilly stage finale, the GC contenders attacked each other when a duo of Cofidis riders riled things up in the final 10km.
Here’s what the stars said after stage 16:
Michael Matthews (Team BikeExhange): 3rd, at :42
Michael Matthews is locked in a battle with Sonny Colbrelli to try and overtake Mark Cavendish’s lead in the green jersey standings. Should Cavendish not make the time cut, or should either Matthews or Colbrelli score a stage win, Cavendish’s lead in this competition will be in jeopardy. Matthews knows it’s his pathway to green, and targeted the intermediate sprints on stage 16.
“I think today was a good opportunity for a stage win for a rider like myself. Our plan was to go in the breakaway, and we achieved that. The plan was to get some points in the intermediate and we achieved that, but just came up short with the stage win,” Matthews said. “I think the whole team did a great job at the start to get two guys in the breakaway; myself and Chris Juul-Jensen. We keep bashing at the door to get that stage win and we will continue fighting for it.”
Matthews can climb better than Cavendish, and believes the green jersey is open for him to take by attacking in the hills. He was aggressive on Tuesday’s stage, and will have to continue attacking at every opportunity that remains in the final week of the Tour.
“I started my sprint early as there was a Cofidis rider in front, so I tried to bring him back in the sprint, but Colbrelli just came past me on the line,” he said. “I am closer [to the points classification lead] but not close enough. Cavendish still has two more sprint opportunities in this Tour de France. If he wins them then that’s another 100 points so all this work I’ve been doing the last days could be all for nothing, but I am a fighter and I will fight all the way to Paris.”
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ): 9th, at :47
David Gaudu was active on the stage, attacking into the day’s breakaway and vaulting back into the top-10 on general classification. While Gaudu’s moves in the break were countered first by the stage 16 winner Patrick Konrad, and then later by the pursuing group with Colbrelli and Matthews, Gaudu is optimistic about his performance.
“Today, it was very likely that the break will go to the end,” Gaudu said. “I had good legs. When Konrad went on his own, I thought to myself it was far from the finish. But it was [Konrad] who was right in the end.”
Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation): 131st, at 23:40
Chris Froome believes Tadej Pogačar is virtually unbeatable in the fight for the yellow jersey. Only a crash, Froome said, can stop the Slovenian.
“If Pogacar can stay on the bike then it’s over,” Froome said. “I like this weather, and I hope it’s like this tomorrow.”
“We are going to ride as hard as we can, it will be a big GC battle,” Froome said.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis): 23rd, at 13:53
Martin was second in the GC battle just a few stages ago. But fatigue caught up with him just a day later and he slipped to ninth place on stage 15. He holds nearly a three-minute lead over 10th place, but is not content, and has been aggressive in stages, to try to gain back time.
“We had to try something, ultimately it caused havoc,” Martin said. “Now I’m going to try to hold on to this top 10, to do the best possible overall. I was not planning to have a good out but it’s good to be a part of the race.”
As a proud French rider, Martin was considerate of the tradition of French riders winning on Bastille Day (July 14), and also of the challenges of stage 17, including the elevation gain, and cold conditions at the top of the final climb, the Col du Portet.
“It’s part of the folklore [of the Tour],” said Martin about winning on Bastille Day. “I have always as much investment whatever the day.”