Australias Michael Matthews won the 16 th stage of the Tour de France, a 165 -kilometre ride from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Romans-sur-Isre, with Chris Froome retaining the yellowed jersey
This was no gentle run to the foothills of the Alps. As Daniel Martin mentioned, the Tour de France can be lost on any granted epoch and this apparently innocuous 100 miles dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Irishmans ambition to finish on the pulpit. After a stage dominated by the Sunweb team, who took their third win in five days with Michael Matthews, Martin lost 51 sec to the other favourites when the hasten split in strong crosswinds with 12 km to go; he slipped from fifth to seventh overall.
This was a dire day for Martins Quick-Step team. In the morning the Belgian crew lost the former nature champion Philippe Gilbert to gastroenteritis. In the afternoon their extents president, Marcel Kittel, plunged a multitude of drawn attention to Matthews, win of both the intermediate sprint and the stage itself, enabling the Australian to gain a maximum 50 parts on the working day, shutting to 29 points behind Kittel.
Martin and the South African Louis Meintjes were the main victims of a high-speed stagecoach predominated initially by a battle between Quick-Step and Sunweb, with the finale buffeted by a strong south-westerly. The beginning of Martins travails could be traced back into the highlands, where Kittel slipped off the back of the peloton as it clambered out of Le Puy-en-Velay, with Matthews assaulting like a psychopath, as he pronounced later.
With Kittel gone, the[ Sunweb] boys went to the front with large-hearted smiles on their faces and razz flat out, enunciated Matthews. Their objective was to open a decisive breach on the green t-shirt and a 50 -strong group that had formed around him, thus setting up Matthewss assault on the points award. With the aid of Steve Cummings who had his eye on a stagecoach win for Edvald Boasson Hagen they did not tighten for over 100 km, until after the intermediate sprint on the other side of the Rhne.
By then the tension “couldve been” seemed in the peloton as high winds inclination trees in the Rhne valley and the divides began emerging in the final 15 km as first Trek-Segafredo and then Team Sky initiated to force-out the pace. Within seconds the 120 -strong front group was in pieces, as a lead carry of 28 constitutes, containing all the top 10 overall apart from Martin and Meintjes. Nairo Quintana was in the mix, Alberto Contador further back.
At this critical moment Martin had only two team-mates with him; the four other Quick-Step equestrians had remained with Kittel, partly because two of them were under the condition. Simply Jack Bauer put in any sustained attempt, together with Meintjes and his two UAE team-mates: their firepower was nowhere near enough, as all the 28 -strong leading radical even Chris Froome, Fabio Aru and Quintana were contributing to the pacemaking up ahead.
In the space of three or four kilometres Martins 13 -strong group lost 30 sec and once the hasten had returned left to take the roar gust on their backs, that was that.
With the precede radical roaming at 65 kph, the Irishmans little peloton would have needed to be going at an unfeasible rate to retrieve contact. He and Bauer received little assistance and any particular sum of interference from each member of AG2R and Orica and eventually the New Zealander extended out of gas.
Matthewss second stage win of the Tour developed at the cost of Boasson Hagen, who is finding brand-new and ever more frustrating ways to finish runner-up. Here he was poorly placed at the top of the little clamber from the Isre in the final kilometre but made up dirt in the last 200 metres as Matthews launched his sprint in the wake of Greg Van Avermaet. The Norwegian to close down simply under a rotation, while, on Matthewss right no sprint here is possible without even a soupon of disagreement John Degenkolb was curving his arm in aggravation; he had a brief altercation with Matthews after the finish but his protest get nowhere.
Abruptly the Alps loom large-scale. The Cols de la Croix de Fer and du Galibier entail 24 km and 28 km of clambering respectively if the Col du Tlgraphe prequel to the Galibier is included building them of a proportion not envisioned so far in this race. If the margins remain tight, that is partly because the clambers have been brief and steep. Here the spreads could be counted in minutes.
To jolt the nerves even more, Matthews and Sunweb are bound to target the early intermediate sprint, coming as it does after a second-category rising where Kittel can be removed. It will be a fast start and for many a gruesome finish.