Tour de France: Stage 16 finish line quotes

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) - Stage 16 winner

It was a difficult day. I was very happy to be in a big group, and I was riding very well. Unfortunately, Philippe [Gilbert] had a nasty fall, but I was feeling good. I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but I paced well. I didn't know if I was going to make it. It was dangerous descent, but I knew it was either Adam Yates or myself who would make it

I will never forget this day. It was an extraordinary day and perfect. It was a tough day, I'm very happy to last until the end and get the stage win. Another day in the polka-dot jersey and I'm going to fight hard to keep it. It will be difficult, but I will fight every day.

Today it was a very crazy day. A lot of pain in my legs, and I think for everybody. I cannot believe I win for the second time today. I knew the final, especially the last climb and the downhill. I'm so happy.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - Overall leader

We were expecting fireworks and a lot of attacks, but luckily they didn't materialize. Obviously, on the last climb there were a few, but the boys are strong and managed to control those, and then there was the final descent. It was a pretty uneventful day, which is always nice.

Everyone, and Luke Rowe did so well and was riding well on the climbs as well, and with timing, it was good that it took so long for the break to go because it meant that we didn't have to ride as long on the front. The team is riding very well, and the better everyone else rides the better it comes together. It's good.

I think we can expect attacks from the gun [during Tuesday's 65km stage 17], but it would be a bit daring to go that soon because it's a really demanding day and the last climb is super hard, maybe the hardest of the Tour. It will take a gutsy ride to go from the start, but we are expecting the worst.

I think it will be a crazy day. There's a lot of climbing in a short space of time, probably only two and a half hours, or two hours and forty minutes, whatever, but most of it will be at threshold, so we will see how it goes.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) - Crashed during stage, finished third

It's one of them things. I've taken more risks on more technical descents before and never had any problems. We recon all the stages, but you never know what's coming up. It was a bit damp or something, and I just came down. That's all there is to it.

My morale is pretty damaged right now. When you come so close to winning a stage of the Tour de France it's pretty devastating, not just for me but for my team.

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) - Caught up in farmer protest

What was it, mace? That's a new experience. I'm always open to new experiences but pepper spray during the race... you could feel it in the lungs there for a bit - it wasn't exactly pleasant. But they dealt with it pretty well and the medical team gave the guys who needed it some attention. Bizarre though.

Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) - Second on stage 16

It's another occasion where I finished second, but that's how cycling works. I tried my best, but I congratulate Julian, he was the best today.

It's how the Tour works. Domenico is a great climber, and he gave it his all on the climb, but in the end he couldn't succeed and I tried to hold on, but in the end I was only good enough for second. Alaphilippe was too strong.

Tomorrow will be a totally different race with the GC guys contesting it. We'll just wait and see how it goes.

Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) - Fourth on stage

It's a pity I couldn't do better than fourth today. I'm getting tired of placing instead of wins, but there wasn't much I could do.

Alaphilippe and Yates were very strong when they went away on the last climb. I gave my all, 110 per cent to get in the break and so my legs weren't great when they went.

I don't know exactly what happened at the protest, but some of the peloton was hit by the pepper spray and needed treatment. Sonny Colbrelli was suffering more than most because he wears contact lenses.

Matt White (Mitchelton-Scott director) - On Yates' crash

When you've got Alaphilippe, one of the world's best descenders, coming up fast, there was a lot of pressure on Adam to rail that descent and to take some risks. We were directly behind Alaphilippe in the car and some of the positions we saw him get into, I've never seen before in my life.

Adam is pretty disappointed. It's a stage win at the Tour de France, and he's just missed it. He has some scrapes but obviously he's gutted. The race isn't over, but that was a big chance.

The race is not finished. It was one opportunity today and we'll go again. Of course we're disappointed, we wanted to win the stage. As we saw today, [Yates] is back in incredible form.

Tomorrow is going to be very predictable; the guys with the best legs will be at the top of the climbs. There's not too much tactics. It's a tricky one. Everyone talks about the kilometres. It's going to be a three-hour race, and it's going to be an intense day. Hopefully Adam isn't hurt from the crash, and we can hope the form is there. It will be an interesting day tomorrow.

[On Yates versus Alaphilippe descending] I'm not David Copperfield, I don't know. Alaphilippe's a very, very good descender but it depends on what risks he takes. We were directly behind him and he is one of the best, if not the best descender in the bunch, and he took a lot of time on Adam and the guys behind, too.

Wilfried Peeters (Quick-Step Floors director) - On Gilbert's crash

He was a little bit hurt, sure. At the beginning he was still in the group, and he will be going to the hospital as he has an open wound on his knee, so we will look at that.

Christian Prudhomme (Tour de France race director) - On farmers' protest

Well, being a cyclist is a really tough job. We saw that with the Philippe Gilbert crash, and they take risks every day. There is really nothing we can do with [the protests], but we are just really disappointed. Maybe we should've sensed there was going to be danger and maybe we should've acted quicker.

People should respect the riders and respect the race. Maybe we should focus on the race. There was a smile on my face for 99 per cent of the race. There were a few crashes, though, with Gilbert and Yates, but a great victory from Julian Alaphilippe. Ultimately I am happy.

[On Wednesday's stage] The top 21 on GC will be lined out in a grid formation tomorrow. It's going to be the shortest stage obviously; it's 65km. It wasn't planned to be quite so short, and it wasn't planned to be a marketing tool for the Tour, but its certainly going to be an intense stage, and hopefully very exciting.

Nicolas Portal (Team Sky director)

[On farmers' protest] The police did a great job, obviously. The police made sure they got rid of the protesters by using the gas and it can be an irritant to your eyes and mouth. All the gas was blown into the riders by the wind and they had to stop to wash their eyes and mouths. Everything was fine in the end, but it was a big worry for everyone.

[On Wednesday] I think to be honest, it'll maybe be a great show. Generally, when you decide to make a grid there is a left or right at the end, and you want people to be one by one, but with the climb it's not going to make a difference and its maybe for the show.

Sixty-five kilometres and a lot of the climbers in the bunch are quite high on GC. It's hard to make a difference between the best climbers and the really good climbers of the bunch so it will be difficult. What makes things complicated is if guys in 10th or 11th decide to go up the road, the pace will be hard and teammates will be used earlier and it will be a crazy stage for sure.

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