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Tour de France 2019: Stage 16


The temperature is a balmy 35 degrees Celsius in Nîmes as the peloton assembles for stage 16 of the Tour de France. Today's stage is a largely flat 177km trek northwards towards Ales and then back to the finish in Nîmes via Uzes. It's a day that ought to give the sprinters one final opportunity before Paris. The GC men, meanwhile, will hope for a degree of calm before the impending storm in the Alps. This is an area often buffeted by wind, but for the time being, the breeze out on the course is a relatively gentle 13kph.

The general classification situation as the Tour resumes after its second rest day is as follows:

The peloton will roll out at 13.20 local time before hitting kilometre zero at 13.30. There is one category 4 climb on the agenda, the Cote de Saint-Jean-du-Pin after 96km.

The peloton is ambling through the neutralised zone ahead of the official start of stage 16.

The Tour’s last visit to Nîmes – the city with an accent, per the tourist board leaflets – was in 2014, when Alexander Kristoff took the spoils in a sprint. The enduring image of that day, however, was of a distraught Jack Bauer slumped against a barrier after the finish. The New Zealander was on the offensive for 222km but was caught and passed by the sprinters in the finishing straight. Read Stephen Farrand's account of that moment here.

The bunch is through kilometre zero but Christian Prudhomme has yet to wave the flag. It seems the delay is because Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) suffered a mechanical issue in the neutralised zone.

174km remaining from 177km

172km remaining from 177km

Łukasz Wiśniowski (CCC Team), Paul Ourselin (Total Direct Energie) and Lars Bak (Dimension Data) are chasing across to the two leaders. Back in the peloton, Lotto Soudal and Deceuninck-QuickStep have spread across the road and slowed the pace considerably. It looks as though our break is establishing itself.

169km remaining from 177km

Geraint Thomas (Ineos) suffered a mechanical problem, but the Welshman has been paced back to the peloton by Michal Kwiatkowski.

164km remaining from 177km

At the start, Geraint Thomas said that caution was the order of the day. "The main thing is to keep riding as we have been really: attentive and at the front, ready for anything," he said. "It’s just about being there and ready for anything. Normally you’d say it would be a sprint day, but on this race, you just never know."

There is one non-starter to report today. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) left the Tour with a back injury during Monday's rest day.

157km remaining from 177km

UAE Team Emirates, Lotto-Soudal and Jumbo-Visma are setting a steady tempo at the head of the peloton and have shaved the break's lead back down to 1:15. The escapees, meanwhile, are now riding in the shadow of the mighty Pont du Gard.

The pelotn is now on the normally pedestrianised bridge that runs alongside the lower tier of the Roman aqueduct, which was constructed in the first century AD.

152km remaining from 177km

Yesterday, Movistar had Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde meet the press separately, with each man giving his own account of the team's bizarre tactical approach to Saturday's stage 14. Alasdair Fotheringham has the gospels according to Quintana and Valverde here, and a reading from the book of Landa here. This morning, the telecommunications company scrambled to have their riders ham up a show of unity for this video posted to social media, complete with Landa massaging Quintana's legs. 

145km remaining from 177km

Julian Alaphilippe betrayed his first signs on weakness on the final haul to Prat d'Albis on Sunday, but the Frenchman remains in the maillot jaune with a lead of 1:35 over Geraint Thomas. "We have hope. I'm aware that it will be difficult," Alaphilippe said yesterday. "It's not a surprise I'm starting to struggle. I haven't lost form today, I have just lost a bit of time. I didn't have the ambition to win the Tour and today nothing changes for me." Patrick Fletcher has more here.

140km remaining from 177km

In the first hour of racing, the escapees have covered some 46 kilometres.

131km remaining from 177km

Dylan van Baarle is helping to pace Thomas, who appears to have grazes on his left knee and elbow, but does not appear to be in any pain. It's not clear how Thomas fell, but he is pedalling smoothly as he makes his way through the convoy.

This was Thomas' third crash of the Tour, following his  fall on the opening stage in Brussels and another incident on the road to Saint-Etienne on stage 8.

125km remaining from 177km

There were similarly soaring temperatures when the Tour visited Nîmes in 1950 on a day that has entered into the folklore of the race. Riding for the North African team, Marcel Molinès made history by becoming the first ever African stage winner, but that notable feat was overshadowed by the fate of his teammate and breakaway companion Abdel-Kader Zaaf, who collapsed unconscious beneath a tree and then reportedly attempted to ride off the wrong direction on coming to. The (almost certainly false) story that passed into lore was that the teetotal Zaaf’s collapse was triggered by taking wine from a spectator. Raphael Geminiani was among those to suggest amphetamine use was the real culprit in an era before doping was recognised as such. The North African squad triumphed again in Touloun a day later through Custodio Dos Reis. You can read a full account of the North African team of the 1950 Tour here.

120km remaining from 177km

115km remaining from 177km

We should start to see Peter Sagan moving up through the peloton as we approach the day's intermediate sprint in Vallérargues. The Slovak has a 93-point lead over Sonny Colbrelli in the points classification as he closes in on a record 7th victory.

Ineos directeur sportif Servais Knaven has told Eurosport that Thomas did not sustain any lasting injury in his crash: "All is good, we just had a look on his injuries and all is fine."

112km remaining from 177km

109km remaining from 177km

107km remaining from 177km

Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) have been prominent in setting the tempo at the head of the bunch, which is 1:10 behind the leading quintet. Jumbo-Visma are massed towards the front around Steven Kruijswijk, with Ineos, Groupama-FDJ and Movistar in line behind them.

97km remaining from 177km

91km remaining from 177km

Dan Martin's GC challenge suffered in the Pyrenees, but he will hope to put a different slant on his Tour in the Alps this week. Stephen Farrand caught up with Martin on the rest day, and the Irishman ran the rule over the remainder of this Tour. "It's funny how one day can change the outlook of this year's race. After the Tourmalet people were saying how Julian could keep the jersey till Paris but then he lost time and suddenly the bets are off. But maybe Sunday was his bad day. Who really knows?" Martin said. "We'll find out in the Alps. The last stage ends with a 34km long climb! We don't ever race long, long climbs like that. And it's after the high altitude of the Col de I'Iseran the day before too. When you think of high altitude, one name comes up: Egan Bernal." Read the full story here.

86km remaining from 177km

85km remaining from 177km

A mechanical issue for Peter Sagan, who looks to have unshipped his chain. He calmly stops to rectify the problem and then begins to chase back through the convoy. 

82km remaining from 177km

81km remaining from 177km

A reminder of the situation with 50 miles remaining. Our five leaders are Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis), Łukasz Wiśniowski (CCC Team), Paul Ourselin (Total Direct Energie) and Lars Bak (Dimension Data). They have a lead of 1:15 over the peloton.

Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue has confirmed that Richard Carapaz and Nairo Quintana will leave his team at the end of this season. Carapaz is destined to move to Ineos, while Quintana is set for Arkea-Samsic. Meanwhile, Unzue affirmed his interest in signing Enric Mas from Deceuninck-QuickStep, while, contrary to earlier reports, he retains hope of keeping Mikel Landa. The Basque had previously been linked with Bahrain-Merida. Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

72km remaining from 177km

Paul Ourselin flies the flag for Total Direct Energie in this break. Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's team have won less prize money than any other on the Tour thus far. Their running total of €6,630 is some way behind Jumbo-Visma's leading prize kitty of €83,830.

67km remaining from 177km

65km remaining from 177km

63km remaining from 177km

Dimension Data have endured a subdued Tour to this point, but Ben King struck an upbeat note about the remainder of their race. "We’re targeting tomorrow. The form has been up and down. I’m healthy and happy and that’s very important at this point in the race. I’m taking it one day at a time. The mood in the team is really positive. There are so many guys with so much experience like Lars Bak, Roman and Steve. It’s a really positive environment around the dinner table. That’s really important," King said. "We’re not the only team to want to win tomorrow but it’s probably a good day for the breakaway. A win in the Tour de France can turn around your entire season. Obviously we’re in the last week but the atmosphere in the team is still really upbeat and confident."

55km remaining from 177km

53km remaining from 177km

It's interesting that yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe and Deceuninck-QuickStep are not stationed at the very front just yet. They held their fire on the road to Albi when EF Education First drilled on the front, but they were in the right place when the split finally took shape.

50km remaining from 177km

There is currently a wind of 20-25kph blowing from the peloton's right, hence the scramble for positions among the GC teams, but as yet, there has been no split.

46km remaining from 177km

43km remaining from 177km

40km remaining from 177km

Gougeard, Wisniowski, Bak, Rossetto and Ourselin stick gamely to their task and their lead is back out to 48 seconds over a very tense peloton.

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30km remaining from 177km

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Jakob Fuglsang has abandoned the Tour de France. He walks to the medical van and climbs in, his race over as a result of that crash.

Fuglsang was 9th overall, 5:27 down on Alaphilippe. The Dane was a faller on the opening stage in Brussels and, perhaps as a consequence, was struggling to replicate his remarkable early-season form on this Tour. 

22km remaining from 177km

20km remaining from 177km

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Kasper Asgreen returns to the front of the bunch for another shift of pace-setting. Up in the break, Wisniowski puts in a long turn in a bid to keep their flickering hopes alive.

8km remaining from 177km

7km remaining from 177km

6km remaining from 177km

A crash in the peloton sees Ben King (Dimension Data) come down but the American is already on his feet and ready to resume his race.

4km remaining from 177km

Bora-Hansgrohe take up the chase on behalf of Peter Sagan. They still have 11 seconds to recoup on the breakaway of Rossetto, Ourselin, Bak, Wisniowski and Gougeard.

3km remaining from 177km

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1km remaining from 177km

Deceuninck-QuickStep move up with Morkov and Richeze leading the way for Viviani.

Max Richeze leads out the sprint for Viviani...

Elia Viviani goes but so too does Caleb Ewan...

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) wins stage 16 of the Tour de France.

Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) takes second ahead of Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma). Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took 4th.

It's been very balanced race among the sprinters to this point, but Caleb Ewan becomes the first of their number to claim a second win on this Tour. The Australian was full value for that win, deftly nipping around Richeze and holding off Viviani to claim the spoils.

Viviani kicked to Richeze's right, while Ewan went to his left. He had to veer around the slowing Argentinian, but had more than enough finishing speed to beat Viviani and take the win.


General classification after stage 16:

Caleb Ewan speaks: "To be honest, I felt so bad today during the day. I think the heat really got to me. I was actually suffering so much I was almost about to tell Max [Monfort] to get off the front because I was really suffering but I had extra motivation today because my daughter and wife are here. I’m so happy I could win for them.

Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow: "Of course today was really warm day on the bike. But it's (the same) for everybody and you have to deal with it. For me, I put ice on my neck all day and I tried to drink a lot and not forget to eat. The final kilometres I was scared to crash. There was a lot of crashes and I never want to crash, but especially when you are the leader of the race. I tried to take care in all the corners. In the end, we didn't win with Elia but it was a good day. Gap is already not so easy stage, but we will see day after day."

Geraint Thomas, meanwhile, has confirmed that his crash was a result of his gears jamming.

You can find a full report, results and pictures from today's stage here.

You can read more about Geraint Thomas' crash here.

Astana have confirmed that Fuglsang sustained no fractures in his crash but he was in too much pain to continue in the Tour. "No fractures for @jakob_fuglsang, but heavy contusions of his hand, arms and knees," the team wrote in a Twitter post, adding a comment from Fulgsang: “I’m really disappointed I have to leave @LeTour like this, but there was too much pain to continue.”

Reaction to today's stage from Ewan, Alaphilippe, Nicolas Portal and Thomas De Gendt is available here.


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