Tour de France for Normal People: Stage 16

You’re interested in the Tour De France but don’t know a thing about bike racing? Well thats why this year I’m writing the Tour De France for Normal People. To help you understand each stage in 3 simple take aways. Hopefully to take the mystery out of Grand Tour racing and help you get more into the sport.

Stage 16: Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-sur-isere

Todays stage set up for an interesting race. Both for the Yellow jersey as well as the Green. Another classic road race with a couple small climbs and a technical finish. The wind also created for a split in the ‘field’ the main group of riders. We usually see the wind play at role at some point in the race and today it reared it’s ugly head, but made for a fun day of racing.

Matthews closing the gap

Image TDWSport.com

Team Sunweb is making its presence known. A couple days ago I talked about how Sunweb got back into the race with two back to back stage wins and carrying the polka dot jersey. Mathews has taken the stage with two stage wins and is now posing a real threat to wear the green jersey in Paris. It’s seems out of no where Mathews is now a real threat to Kittel. Taking the intermediate sprint points on stage and then pulling out the photo finish win today, Matthews now holds 344 point in the Green Jersey competition. Kittel holds the lead at 373 points. Mathews is now within 29 points. If Mathews heads out in the breakaway early he could bring the gap even closer.

Kittel Suffers

Image TDWSport.com

Normally its not a big deal for the Green jersey to be in the ‘Grupetto”.

Grupetto – The gruppetto is in bicycling terminology the name given to the group of cyclists in a road cycling race who form a large group behind the leading peloton. The grupetto forms on mountain stages when non-climbers fall off the back of the peloton during the climb.

But the last couple stages have set up for classic road race finishes. Whats worse is that with the peloton missing road race world champion Peter Sagan, it has opened the flood gates for Team Sunweb’s Matthews. Today we saw that Kittel just didn’t have the legs to keep with the group. You could really seeing him struggle. At first I thought he and Team Quick Step were ok with Mathews going in the break they are planning for the last couple big flat stages to seal the deal on Green. However, Mathews is just too close in points for this to be the tactic. It also became clear today that the rest day did not do justice for Kittel and he suffered. The race for the Green Jersey could now really hinge on the breakaway and intermediate sprint points. Kittel may get his form back and be able to take two more stage wins to seal the deal. But team Quick Step will have to keep a close eye on the early break aways for the rest of the race.

The wind!

Image Letour.com

The wind plays a pivotal role in the race as it splits up the main field\peloton. We’ve gotten through southern France without much wind but today that all changed. But when the wind hits you see panic set in and teams start to take advantage. We saw just that today. Team Sky planned on the wind and when set in they put the hammer down. I would think in hopes of catching, Bardet, Aru or Uran off guard. This wasn’t the story but they did catch Martin in 5th place overall and put a decent gap on him; moving Martin out of 5th place down to 7th. Needless to say today was a rough day for Team Quick step. We shall see what happens through the fields of lavender as the tour exits the Alps and if the wind will rear its ugly head again.

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