Sixteen stages down. Two rest days complete. Three mountain stages fast approaching. After enjoying a splashed-filled rest day in Nimes, the peloton returned to their life on the road for stage 16 of Tour de France 2019, on the final sprint day before Paris, battling a heatwave that has hit Europe along the way.
Aussie pocket rocket Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) flamed his way to a second stage win in his Tour debut, making him the most successful sprinter of this year’s race. Newly discovered climbing sensation Elia Viviani benefited from yet another near-perfect lead out from the Quicksteppers to claim second whilst JumboBee Dylan Groenewegen came home in third. No change at the top of the GC.
Rider(s) of the Race
Caleb Ewan is duly awarded the Rider of the Race award for not only becoming the first sprinter to win multiple stages this year, but also for being one of the few riders that can overtake an otherwise perfect sprint lead out from Quickstep. That takes skills, and I’ll applaud him for that achievement.Embed from Getty Images
German tank Tony Martin is also deserving of a mention, as well as Lotto’s Maxime Monfort. These two diesel engines spent an eternity on the front of today’s peloton, alternating between dragging the peloton along and stuffing crushed ice into the vents of their helmets, kilometre after kilometre. Chapeau, boys!
Heal Up, Jakob…
While most of the day looked like an easy spin around the roads of France, bad luck unfortunately befell Danish charmer Jakob Fuglsang and Astana when Jakob hit the deck inside the final 30 kilometres (and broke Midge’s heart).
Although he got to his feet fairly quickly and looked ready to remount a teammate’s bike, it soon became clear that all was not well. Shortly after having his helmet removed by a teammate, Jakob walked off to an ambulance. Luckily, medical checks showed no broken bones.
A Look At the History Books!
Thirty years ago today, what has long been considered the best Tour de France came to a stunning conclusion. In 1989, American Greg LeMond stunned all of France, and the cycling world, by beating Laurent Fignon in the final individual time trial to win the yellow jersey by the slimmest of margins — eight seconds.
With the 2019 Tour the most hotly contested edition in recent memory — five riders are within 40 seconds of each other, assuming Julian Alaphilippe falls out of contention — is history on the verge of repeating itself three decades later?
The race won’t finish with an individual time trial. The battle won’t be between a Frenchman and an American. The winning margin likely won’t be smaller than eight seconds. But, with three stages in the Alps and a mountain top finish to come before Sunday’s ceremonial stage into Paris, everything is up for grabs!
The Final Word
Stage Results – Top 5
1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 3:57:08
2 Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
3 Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma)
4 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)
5 Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie)
General Classification – Top 10
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 64:57:30
2 Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) +1:35
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +1:47
4 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:50
5 Egan Bernal (Ineos) +2:02
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) +2:14
7 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +4:54
8 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +5:00
9 Rigoberto Uran (Education First) +5:33
10 Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +6:30
All the Jerseys
Maillot Jaune: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
Maillot Vert: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
Maillot Blanc: Egan Bernal(Team Ineos)
King of the Mountains: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)
Head image: GETTY/Velo/Chris Graythen