Tour de France Retrospective: The year of the running man

Froome's wild ride, Sagan's green jersey dominance, and the rebirth of Cav

Tour de France Video

2016 Tour de France

History doesn’t really repeat itself. In any case, it didn’t play out as it did during Chris Froome’s first two victories. Where one strong performance was nearly all it took to take care of his rivals (Ax-3-Domaines in 2013 and La Pierre-Saint-Martin in 2015), the Team Sky leader delivered short jabs in trying out new tactics depending on his mood and opportunities. Press play to see how it all unfolded.

On the descent at Bagnères-de-Luchon and on the flat at Montpellier, Froome demonstrated clear superiority with style and strength.
Already looking a strong bet for the win after the Pyrenees, Froome controlled his rivals and built up a cushion, but not a big enough one to dissuade them from attacking.

2016 Tour de France

Second overall for six days, Adam Yates didn’t pose a serious threat to his elder countryman, but the position he held, including once he was no longer in the top three (4th at the finish), makes him the revelation of the Tour. A status solidified with the White Jersey, which he will defend next year. His closest rival Louis Meintjes continually improved throughout the race. The young Lampre climber became the first African rider to finish in the Top 10 overall (8th). This is one talent to keep an eye on. 

2016 Tour de France

Bauke Mollema has long passed the break out stage and he suffered a repeat of past disappointment. In the space of two days he dropped from 2nd to 11th place, which was worse than his 2013 Tour when he finished 6th after spending a long while on the provisional podium.

2016 Tour de France

And finally, Romain Bardet lived up to his credo, mixing efficiency and originality, he took off on his quest for second place in the general classification, while thrilling the fans cycling magic on the Domancy descent. At 04’05” to Froome on the Champs-Elysées, the French rider wasn’t a title threat… but his best years are still ahead of him. 

2016 Tour de France

Betting on the future is risky, but Bardet should also encounter Nario Quintana on the roads of July, who finished second last year. The Columbian was never up to creating his “Sueño Amarillo”, but did manage to finish his third Tour on the podium in as many participations. Jarlinson Pantano defended the colors of his country in taking the victory at Culoz. And the Movistar squad took top honors in the team classification and its rider Ion Izagirre took a stage win.

2016 Tour de France

This Tour will also be a year to remember for Peter Sagan. It is the first he spent wearing the world champion jersey, it is also the year he won his first monument with Tour of Flanders… and in the month of July he put on the Yellow Jersey for the first time.

2016 Tour de France

To achieve this, the rider from Slovakia had to end his draught of stage wins on the Tour since 2013. Never satisfied, Sagan didn’t stop after his stage win in Cherbourg “in gold”. Pushed on by his vision of total attack, he began his chase for points to take his fifth consecutive Green Jersey. Along the way, he completed his in thwarting the pure sprinters in Montpellier, and then he beat them at their own game at Bern.

Even with seven stage wins to his credit, Sagan is far behind the total of Mark Cavendish. But the British sprinter had to wait until his 10th participation in the Tour de France to finally put on the Yellow Jersey, which for example escaped his grasp when he crashed at Harrogate in 2014. Almost by surprise, he got the best of Greipel, Kittel and Kristoff at Utah Beach. Not happy to add to his prize closet the only jersey he had yet to win, the “Cav” showed that at the age of 31, he was once again the King of sprints, with four wins from five mass confrontations. With 30 wins since 2008, Cavendish overtook Bernard Hinault on the list of stage winners. Only Merckx has more with 34 stage victories… and, by the way, five Tour titles!

Among the pre-Pyrenees Yellow Jersey riders, Greg van Avermaet was the most solid leader with three days at the sharp end of the order. The Belgian native took an uncharacteristic win on the Lioran mountain stage, where the climbers were expected to dominate. Another surprise performance was put in by one-day classic specialist Tom Dumoulin who won the Andorra-Arcalis stage. The Dutch rider then returned to his usual ways in stamping his authority on the Caverne du Pont-d’Arc time trial.

2016 Tour de France

Van Avermaet and Dumoulin momentarily eclipsed the climbers, but they didn’t stop Rafal Majka from setting off on his quest for the Polka dot Jersey. The Pole used the breakaways to score the needed points, including on the stages won by two previously mentioned. Like in 2014, the Tinkoff climber brought solace to his team following the retirement of Alberto Contador, despite not taking a stage victory. But for the future, he knows what it will take…

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  • blackbean says:

    Contador is a has been. I don’t know why they make such a fuss about him at the Tour. He’s strong and better than 90% in the pack, but he won’t ever win the Tour again.

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