Another aggressive showing from Pantano
IAM Cycling's Jarlinson Pantano has been one of the breakout riders of the 2016 Tour de France with the Colombian winning a stage into Culoz and taking second place finishes in Finhaut-Émosson and on the penultimate stage of the race, Morzine. The 27-year-old, who is likely to finish 19th overall for the second year running, was rewarded for his aggressive showing on stage 20 with his second combativity award of the race after his runner up result to Movistar's Ion Izagirre.
"This was a very difficult stage because of the rain and the downhills. There were very dangerous. I'm happy with the second place. You can't always win. It's been a good last week for me. It gives me confidence and motivation for the future," he said.
Pantano had infiltrated the breakaway, biding his time before making his move on the Joux Plane with Etixx-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe providing company on the final climb of the day. The duo looked to be riding for the win until Astana's Vinzeno Nibali and then Izagirre bridging across.
The Movistar rider lead down the treacherous descent with Nibali and Pantano in chase with the Colombian explaining that despite his best efforts he couldn't match the speed of Izagirre.
"I gave everything on the ascent of the Joux-Plane. I started the descent behind Nibali, but he left a gap. I went on his right in order to overtake him, but I had to unclip because I went too hot into the first corner. In spite of my best efforts, I never was able to get back up front. This is a good 2nd place, but I am convinced I had the victory in my legs," said Pantano after recording IAM Cycling's 11th top-ten result in its final Tour.
"I am satisfied with my Tour, and I am very grateful to the entire team. Without them, I would never have been able to get the stage win and these podium places."
Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) enjoys his second visit to the podium for the combativity award in Morzine (ASO)
Kelderman crashes after aggressive showing
Wilco Kelderman was on track for his first top-five result at the Tour de France with the LottoNL-Jumbo rider spending stage 20 in the breakaway only for a final kilometre crash bring him down after a wet descent of the Joux Plane. The 25-year-old crossed the line in seventh place almost two minutes down on Movistar's Ion Izagirre although the official results had his finishing time at 49 seconds down.
"Wilco Kelderman escaped immediately in the first kilometre of the stage," sports director Merijn Zeeman explained of the start to stage 20. "They broke away with a big group of 36 riders. Bert-Jan Lindeman was part of that group as well, but he was dropped afterwards. Thirty riders were able to stay in front, eventually with George Bennett among them. When the breakaway fell apart, George set the pace on the Col de la Ramax to bring Wilco back in the race. That succeeded.
"The descent was very technical and slippery because of the rain. He was back at 15 seconds on the descent, but missed a turn with one kilometre to go."
Kelderman explained a a corner took him by surprise and was unable to correct his line in time.
"Just before the final kilometre, a sharp turn appeared suddenly," he said. "My wheel slipped away on a white stripe and I rode into the fences at 60 kilometres an hour. I fell on my back and it hurt so much that I wasn’t able to push hard anymore. I’m only suffering some scrapes and bruises fortunately, so I don’t have too much damage.
"I gave everything and fought for what I was capable of. When I crashed, I was in fifth position and that would have been the best possible place today."
With the final stage into Paris to come, Kelderman sits in 32nd place overall, 1:24:38 down on yellow jersey holder Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Contract extensions at LottoNL-Jumbo and FDJ
While the riders were competing in the penultimate stages of the 2016 Tour, there were several contract extensions announced by their respective teams. Although riders transfers can't be announced until August 1, teams are free to announce contract extensions as they please.
LottoNL-Jumbo announced in the early-stages of stage 20 that New Zealander George Bennett will remain with the team for a further two years.
"It is good news that I can stay with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. For two years, I've been riding for this team and I get all the support of the team, not only mentally but also in terms of equipment, training and nutrition," Bennett said. "I feel at home among the other boys and that is equally important. The team looks not only at how fast you can ride, but also who you are as a person. So I get every opportunity to develop myself."
Technical Director Nico Verhoeven added that Bennett's performances at the Tour of California, Criterium du Dauphiné and on his Tour debut made it an easy decision to extend his contract.
"Bennett has shown himself in the Dauphiné and the Tour of California this year. These results have ensured that he could start of the Tour de France," Verhoeven said. "He confirmed his good form being in the breakaways in the Tour."
FDJ have secured the services of several riders on two-year-deals with the French team extending the contracts of Arthur Vichot, William Bonnet and Anthony Roux to the end of 2018. Swiss duo Steve Morabito and Sébastien Reichenbach also extended their contracts with FDJ to the end of 2018 on Friday.
French Champion Arthur Vichot is one of several riders to extend with FDJ to the end of the 2018 season (Getty Images)
175-rider strong peloton to arrive in Paris
The 2016 Tour de France peloton has made history with 175 riders to arrive in Paris and set a new record for the most finishers in a single year after 198 riders started in Mont-Saint-Michel. The previous record was 170 riders in the 2010 Tour de France while 169 riders made it to Paris in 2013.
The race also set a new record with no abandons in the first seven stages of the race with Katusha's Michael Morkov the first rider to call it quits as injuries got the better of the Katusha rider on stage eight.
The most abandons on a stage this year was four which occurred on two occasions, stage 9 and stage 17. 1919 remains the lowest number of finisher in Tour de France history with just 10 riders arriving in Paris from 69 starters.
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