Tour de France 2017: Michael Matthews wins stage 16 after superb team effort - Road Cycling UK

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Tour de France 2017: Michael Matthews wins stage 16 after superb team effort

Australian closes gap in points classification; Dan Martin and Alberto Contador lose time in crosswinds

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) won stage 16 of the 2017 Tour de France after a brilliant ride by his team, as crosswinds decimated the peloton in the final 20km.

Matthews and his team-mates ramped the pace up from the very start as green jersey Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) was dropped from the bunch on the day’s first climb.

And after staying attentive at the front when crosswinds dissected the peloton – Dan Martin (QuickStep Floors), Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) were among those caught out – Matthews outsprinted Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) to claim victory.

Yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) and white jersey Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) were both safely in the front group – the latter making more big gains atop the youth classification as a result.

The day belonged to Matthews and Team Sunweb, however, as the Australian clawed back 50 points on Kittel in the race for the green jersey.

Michael Matthews capped a fine day for the team by winning stage 16 of the Tour de France (pic – Sirotti)

There was no suggestion the peloton would be easing their way back into the racing after the second rest day, and the pace was super-high with the stage heading uphill from the start.

British champion Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) was among those trying to get a gap early on, but attacks were plentiful and Team Sky martialled the peloton in the early stages as nobody got clear.

When a break did form, the considerable firepower of Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) powered it, along with Thomas Degand (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis).

As news filtered through that green jersey Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) was in trouble, however, Michael Matthews and Team Sunweb hit the front and turned the heat on.

Kittel’s group, with team-mates Fabio Sabatini and Julien Vermote pulling hard, nearly got back on but Team Sunweb kept the pace high and reaped their rewards as the second group was distanced again.

George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), 12th overall at the start of the day, was another victim of the pace and abandoned after being dropped early by both groups – his team citing illness.

Sunweb’s efforts on the front also delivered another climbing point to Warren Barguil in the polka-dot jersey, but their real focus was on narrowing the gap to green jersey Kittel – and in that regard they rewarded.

QuickStep Floors abandoned the chase behind, as did many of the big names caught in that group – though Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) put in a huge chase to get back to the front group.

At the intermediate sprint, however, it was Matthews that comfortably swept the maximum 20 points ahead of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

The tension increased again after the intermediate sprint, however, with crosswinds on the cards and the after-effects of the early pace-setting told again when Dan Martin – with only two QuickStep Floors team-mates left for company – was caught behind a split as echelons opened up.

Martin was not alone in that second group – Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), whose climbing domestique Jarlinson Pantano suffered a bad crash, Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) were also caught out.

Contador was even further back in the third group on the road, while up front Daniele Bennati (Movistar) went for a long one with 2km to go.

Simon Yates moved up to sixth overall and gained more time on Louis Meinjes in the youth classification (pic – Alex Broadway/ASO)

Sunweb would not be denied, however – Matthews was delivered to the front, before Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) opened up the sprint.

Degenkolb and Matthews kicked with 250m to go, while Boasson Hagen – looking for a Mandela Day win for Africa’s team – was just off Degenkolb’s wheel.

Mathews proved fastest, however, winning by a wheel ahead of Boasson Hagen to pay back his team’s efforts on the stage in perfect style.

In the general classification, meanwhile, the top four overall all finished safely together, with fifth-placed Martin the day’s biggest loser as he dropped to seventh.

Yates, meanwhile, now sits sixth overall and holds a 3’58” advantage over Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) in the youth classification.

Tour de France 2017: stage 16 – report

1) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Team Sunweb – 3.38.15hrs
2) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Dimension Data – ST
3) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo
4) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing
5) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
6) Jens Keukeleire (BEL) – Orica-Scott
7) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
8) Tiesj Benoot (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
9) Maciej Bodnar (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe
10) Romain Hardy (FRA) – Fortuneo-Oscaro

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 68.18.36hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +18”
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +23”
4) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +29”
5) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +1.17
6) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +2.02
7) Dan Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +2.03
8) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +6.00
9) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +6.05
10) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +6.16

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