Tour de France Stage 16: Plaza Gaps the peloton for solo win

On a day when we were expecting all the action to happen on the descent of the Col de Manse, Rubén Plaza made a brilliant tactical decision and attacked on the ascent. His minute advantage as he crested the summit was more than enough to hold a rampaging Peter Sagan at bay to take the biggest victory of his career and ensured that his Lampre-Merida team get to crack open the bubbly tonight. The GC contenders flexed a few muscles with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) gaining a few seconds with a trademark attack.

Stage 16 profile: Tour de France 2015

Rider of the day

That scarily fast and tricky descent into Gap more than lived up to its reputation today. We saw superb bike skills, trademark attacks and enough ‘squirrelly’ moments to make you wince – none more so than for my rider of the day Geraint Thomas (Sky).

Tour de France 2015 - 20/07/2015 - 16ème Etape - Bourg de Péage / Gap - 201Km - Victime d'une lourde chute dans la descente du col de Mance, Geraint THOMAS (SKY), rassure Christopher FROOME (SKY) sur sa santé

Geraint Thomas at the finish line in Gap. (Image: ASO/G.Demouveaux)

As the yellow jersey group made their way down the Col de Manse, Giant-Alpecin’s Warren Barguil got his line horribly wrong into a corner and collided with the Welshman. Barguil managed to stay upright but Geraint was catapulted through the spectators and off the side of the road, hitting his head hard on a telegraph pole. It was a heart-stopping moment, thankfully followed by one of huge relief when news came through that he was back on his bike and chasing hard, eventually finishing just 40 seconds behind his team leader and retaining his sixth place in the overall standings. The latest info from the team says that he has escaped with just a bruised ear and sore left shoulder – good news indeed.

When asked about the incident he replied, “Everyone knows it’s a dodgy descent, I just got taken out – 100% it was a mistake,” and later his dry sense of humour shone through …

A nice Frenchman [pulled me out of the ditch]. They are nice here, there’s a few that aren’t, but a nice Frenchman. I lost my glasses as well – they don’t even make them anymore.

Give that man a welshcake – STAT!!

Three things we noticed

1. Hansen unleashed. You just know what’s coming when you see Lotto-Soudal’s Adam Hansen lurking amongst a huge breakaway and he did not disappoint. With just short of 50km to ride and while the rest of his breakaway companions all looked at each other probably thinking “What is he doing?” Adam was away and up the road like the solo attack master he is. Sadly he was caught on the Col de Manse, but there surely would not have been a more popular winner had he pulled it off. All this as he stands within five days of finishing his 12th consecutive grand tour, and carrying a collarbone injury from the first week that left him with more kinesio tape on show than a volunteer at a sports medicine lecture. You’ve got to love him.

2. Swashbuckling Sagan. Being the lone Tinkoff-Saxo rider in the large breakaway didn’t seem to bother Peter Sagan one little bit. He was tenacious on the climbs and ferocious on the descents, and the only move that got past him was the winning one. Have a look at this little clip and just marvel.

3. Hot Hot Hot. Today’s stage was a real sizzler for all sorts of reasons. The day before a rest day is traditionally one where the break makes it. Everyone knows this and the competition to be part of it is fierce. It took about 50 minutes of frenetic action before the break settled. The average speed for the first hour was 53.6kph in temperatures exceeding 30ºC. Phew! No wonder we saw some inventive ways of cooling down. Here’s Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) demonstrating the ‘icebag on head’ method.

Screenshot 2015-07-20 at 2.21.12 PM - Edited

 

Stage 16 result

1. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) 4:30:10

2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:30

3. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) +0:36

4. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) +0:40

5. Bob Jungels (Trek) same time

General classification

1. Chris Froome (Sky) 64:47:16

2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:10

3. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +3:32

4. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +4:02

5. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +4:23

6. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +5:32

7. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +6:23

8. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +8:17

9. Bauke Mollema (Trek) +8:53

10. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) +11.03

Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

King of the Mountains leader: Chris Froome (Sky).

Best young rider: Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Team classification: Movistar.

Link: Official race website

Featured image: Stage winner Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida – Race website/Presse Sports

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