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Tour de France 2016 – The Story So Far

Tour de France 2016 - The Story So Far
16 stages down, 5 left to go for racers of the 2016 Tour de France

Froome In Yellow, Sagan in Green, Rafal Majka in the climber's Polka Dots: at a glance, the 2016 Tour offers no surprises except how prophetic the BikeRoar forecasting team are.

Froome, Majka, Sagan - yellow jersey, polka dot jersey, green jersey - Tour de France 2016
Froome, Majka, Sagan

However, dig a little deeper and you discover that despite the relatively predictable nature of the results after 16 of the 21 stages, this has been one of the most dynamic and exciting first two weeks of a Grand Tour for a long time.

Who would have thought that come the second rest day not a single stage win would have come from a resident of cycling's powerhouse nations, France, Italy, or Spain? Instead, Great Britain, Slovakia, Australia, and Belgium have dominated the top step of the podium.

And who could possibly have predicted that Chris Froome, the consummate professional often criticized for his "boring" race tactics and tentative bike-handling skills, would emerge as a fearless, attacking rider with genuine bad intentions who rides his rivals off his wheel?

Mark Cavendish wins his fourth stage of the Tour de France, the 30th of his career, on stage 14 of the Tour de France 2016
Cavendish wins his fourth stage of the Tour de France, the 30th of his career

Stages 1, 3, 6, and 14 belonged to the flamboyant British sprinter Mark Cavendish. Believed by many experts to be past his prime, Cav has resurrected his career leading into the Rio Olympics, and the combination of his raw speed, excellent assistance from his Dimension Data lead-out train, and his sublime bike skills have proved he's still at the top of his game. His four wins in this Tour bring him up to 30 in total, only four less than the immortal Eddie Merckx.



Peter Sagan wearing the green jersey of TdF2016
Sagan is comfortable and poised in the green sprinter's jersey

World Champion Peter Sagan always comes into a race with high expectations, but this year has gone better than even he could have hoped. He has finished in the top five positions in an incredible eight of the sixteen stages so far, winning stages 2, 11, and 16 in typical style. With little help from his teammates, Sagan is often left to fend for himself. He manages to forcibly insert himself into nearly every successful breakaway, chipping away at the intermediate sprint points on offer then powering his way to the front to fight for the win. "Surfing" from one lead-out train to another, he unerringly finds the right position as the finish line approaches. He is 114 points clear of Mark Cavendish, his closest rival in the quest for the Sprinters' Green Jersey award, and barring accident will win his fifth consecutive Green Jersey when he arrives in Paris at the end of the week. With his rock-star charisma, hot pink fan bus for his legions of supporters, off-the-cuff one-liners and incredible bike skills, Sagan is the true mega-star of the pro peloton.



Rafal Majka wears the TdF polka dot jersey (French: maillot à pois rouges)
Majka has claimed the polka dot jersey

At the opposite end of the spectrum is his Tinkoff team-mate Rafal Majka. Quietly going about his business, the Polish climber has been steadily amassing points in the climbers' Polka-Dot jersey competition. He currently sits 37 points clear of BMC's Thomas de Gendt, but is yet to win a stage - such is his patience and consistency that he is always in the mix, gathering points without gathering stage glory. Expect him to defend the climber's title he won in 2014.

On the subject of defending titles, Chris Froome is well on the way to winning the General Classification Yellow Jersey to go with those he won in 2013 and 2015. For the first seven stages of this year's race Froome was content to let his stone-faced Team Sky teammates usher him safely along toward the front of the peloton, taking no chances and doing exactly what we always expect Chris Froome to do - wait for somebody else to make a mistake. Then, on Stage 8 into Bagnères de Luchon, he launched the most audacious and daring attack we've ever seen from the Team Sky captain. Plunging down the mountainside, perched on his bike's top-tube to reduce his wind resistance, he claimed a brilliant solo victory and with it the race leader's yellow jersey.

Froome crouches forward on his top tube and pedals while descending to the stage win
Froome's extreme position and pedaling on the descent. Click here to see the video
image: @chrisfroome

Three days later, on a day marked down for a bunch-sprint finish as Stage 11 made its way to Montpellier, Froome destroyed his GC rivals by teaming up with Tinkoff's Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar and attacking from the front of the bunch to sneak away in the final kilometers and finish six seconds ahead of the field. Sagan won the stage, but Froome may have won the Tour de France with his strength and daring.

The next day, as the Tour made its way up the famed Mount Ventoux, saw one of the strangest series of events ever witnessed at a Grand Tour.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) powered up the mountain to snatch a well-deserved win, but behind him chaos ensued. With less than 2km remaining Froome, BMC's Richie Porte and Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema had distanced themselves from the rest of the GC contenders and were working together when a TV motorbike leading the trio came to a standstill due to the sheer number of fans lining the road.

Porte crashed into the back of the motorbike, with Froome and Mollema then crashing into him. The Dutchman from Trek-Segafredo stood up and got going again, while Porte wasted valuable minutes recovering from the impact and fixing the chain on his bike. Froome, meanwhile, was hit by a second moto following behind, which destroyed his bike. Astonishingly, he began running up Mount Ventoux, desperately calling out over race radio for a replacement bike as hysterical fans lining the roadway screamed encouragement and abuse in equal measures.



After running about 200 meters Froome received a spare bike from Mavic neutral support, but the farce continued as he realized the bike was comically small and, to add further insult to considerable injury, had the wrong pedals fitted so he was unable to ride it anyway. His team car finally caught up to him and gave him his spare team bike and, visibly seething, he managed to finish the stage.

Race organizers ASO and the UCI race commissaires tried to play down the bizarre incident, with Froome remaining in yellow, and both Froome and Porte being awarded the same time as Mollema on the stage.

Froome recovered well the following day, finishing second behind Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) in the 37km time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andéol to Pont-d'Arc. Dumoulin covered the lumpy course in 50:15, beating Froome by 1:03 and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) by 1:31.

Tom Dumoulin individual time trial stage 13 Tour de France 2016
Dumoulin is fastest in the stage 13 individual TT

Froome then maintained position for the next three stages, coasting into Berne, Switzerland for the second rest day 1 minute 47 clear of Bauke Mollema, with Adam Yates at 2'45" and Nairo Quintana lurking at 2'49".

Nairo Quintana and Adam Yates in the Tour de France 2016
Quintana and Yates - can they move up and make up time?

So, where to from here? Froome's lead looks unassailable, and with the aggressive Alberto Contador having been forced to abandon after a series of nasty crashes in the early stages of the race, only Colombian Nairo Quintana is capable of genuinely challenging him in the mountains between Switzerland and Paris. However, Quintana seems curiously reluctant to pull the trigger when it comes to attacking Froome. BikeRoar predicts Froome will hang onto his overall lead, with Quintana moving from fourth to second and Australian Richie Porte clawing his way up from seventh to third.

Sagan will maintain his dominance in the Green Jersey competition, with daylight second, and the tenacious Rafal Majka will manage to hold off all challenges to claim his second climber's Polka-Dot jersey in three years.

Classification Standings After 16 Stages - Tour de France 2016

General Classification Top 10
(Yellow Jersey)

  1. Chris Froome
  2. Bauke Mollema + 1'47"
  3. Adam Yates + 2'45"
  4. Nairo Quintana + 2'49"
  5. Alejandro Valverde + 3'17"

General Classification Top 10

  1. Romain Bardet + 4'04"
  2. Richie Porte + 4'27"
  3. Tejay Van Garderen + 4'47"
  4. Daniel Martin + 5'03"
  5. Fabio Aru + 5'16"

Points Classification Top 5
(Green Jersey)

  1. Peter Sagan - 405 points
  2. Mark Cavendish - 291 points
  3. Marcel Kittel - 228 points
  4. Bryan Coquard - 156 points
  5. Alexander Kristoff - 152 points

Mountains Classification Top 5
(Polka Dot Jersey)

  1. Rafal Majka - 127 points
  2. Thomas de Gendt - 90 points
  3. Daniel Navarro - 69 points
  4. Serge Pauwels - 62 points
  5. Tom Dumoulin - 58 points



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Benny high res mtbAuthor: Marcus Speed
A former professional athlete, Marcus has a wealth of experience and has been a representative at both State and National level. A certified coach with Cycling Australia, he specializes in strength and endurance conditioning, and takes enormous pride in delivering a program to each athlete that gives them the tools to realise genuine improvement and satisfaction.

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