Bern, Switzerland, July 18, 2016 (AFP) – Peter Sagan said he was lucky to pip Alexander Kristoff in a photo finish to the Tour de France 16th stage on Monday — and admitted he initially thought he had come second.
At first glance Norway’s Kristoff seemed to have won, but a close inspection showed the world champion Sagan had edged past him by the rubber on his front wheel.
“I was not waiting for the results, I thought I was second until they came and told me I had won. It’s unbelievable after so many times finishing second,” said Sagan, who has been second 17 times on Tour stages.
The Slovak, who won his third Tour stage this year and seventh in total, said it was a technical mistake that cost Kristoff what would have been his third stage success at the race after two in 2014.
“You can see from the final picture — I’ve lost a lot of times like this, by a very small piece of tyre,” said Sagan, 26.
“Today I was lucky. Alexander just made his jump on the line very late, I jumped before.
“When you jump you have to pull the bike on the front — at that moment he was pulling on the back, not on the front.”
For race leader Chris Froome, who finished safely in a much-reduced peloton alongside his main overall rivals, there’s nothing lucky about what Sagan does.
“He’s a phenomenal rider — most people in the peloton are scared of him,”
said the 31-year-old Briton.
“It’s just his ability — he can do everything. He chooses when he wants to go in a breakaway, how he wants to ride the finish.
“I’m actually surprised he didn’t attack on that last climb and ride away solo, but he still managed to win the stage.”
– ‘Not for me’ –
The finish to the 209km 16th stage from Moirans-en-Montagne to Bern in Switzerland had a tough climb just before the sprint to the line.
It proved selective with most of the pure sprinters unable to keep up.
Only Mark Cavendish did, but the Briton, a winner of four stages this year and 30 in total, used up all his energy in doing so and was unable to position himself for the sprint finish.
It turned into a battle between Sagan and Kristoff, with Norwegian Sondre Holst Enger taking third.
Froome still leads by 1min 47sec overall from Dutchman Bauke Mollema ahead of Tuesday’s rest day, before four Alpine stages from Wednesday.
Given the tough drag up to the finish, some pure sprinters had already decided they’d be having a quiet day.
“I don’t think it’s really a stage for me. With the two bumps in the finale, it’s more for riders like Sagan or (Michael) Matthews,” said German Andre Greipel.
“But I think it’s also a great day for a breakaway because everybody’s tired and it’s before the rest day and nobody will really want to chase.”
– Hard chasing –
That was certainly the attitude taken by his great German sprint rival Marcel Kittel’s Etixx team.
German time-trial specialist Tony Martin set off on one of his epic escapades alongside young French Etixx team-mate Julian Alaphilippe, who was heading for victory on Sunday before his chain stuck.
However, the Tinkoff and Katusha teams of Sagan and Kristoff had other ideas and chased hard.
By the 83km mark the front two’s lead reached its apex, at almost six minutes, but it came down quickly over the final 100km.
Inside the final 30km, they had less than a minute and 5km later Alaphilippe had given up, with Martin resisting only another 2.5km.
That provoked a counter-attack from former world champion Rui Costa of Portugal, but he was caught 4.5km from the finish, and thereafter it was all about Sagan and Kristoff.
“I believe in destiny. I have to be happy with everything that I take from life and just enjoy it.”
– Peter Sagan says his victory was written in the stars.
“The main thing today for Team Sky was to get me to the finish in one piece. All-in-all it’s a day we can thankfully just tick off now.”
– Yellow jersey wearer Chris Froome was relieved to get to Tuesday’s rest day without incident.
“Good example how to pass the line and how not to do it!!! Unfortunately I am the bad example in this pic.”
– Alexander Kristoff shares a picture of his photo-finish defeat on instagram.
“It was a bit crazy but if you don’t try, you don’t win. I hope the fans and the spectators enjoyed it.”
– German time-trial specialist Tony Martin on his long break with Etixx team-mate Julian Alaphilippe.
“It wasn’t exactly what we planned — we wanted to be in the breakaway but we found ourselves out front. He (Martin) wanted to continue, knowing tomorrow’s a rest day. What he did was incredible.”
– Julian Alaphilippe tells of how he was swept along by team-mate Martin’s ‘crazy’ breakaway.
“Tony (Martin) has won stages like this before. (Julian) Alaphilippe being out there wasn’t really part of our master plan, especially after yesterday and maybe he will regret hanging out there.”
– Etixx sports director Brian Holm bluntly explains the crossed wires in team instructions.
“An average of 47km/h under a baking hot sun, the organisms suffered. The Tour rest day couldn’t come soon enough!”
– Team Cofidis recount to their Twitter fans how the riders suffered on Monday.
“I don’t like the heat too much, yesterday I lost five kilos. Tomorrow, it’s a rest day. Maybe I’ll drink a beer. The wine will be for the end of the season.”
– Riding his final Tour before retiring at the end of the season, Fabian Cancellara seems to be winding down already.
“It was a hard day, actually. When you have Tony Martin in front it’s not going to be easy. 4hrs 25min to do 210km, that’s pretty fast.”
– British sprinter Mark Cavendish blames Martin for the tough day in the saddle.
“Not a bad spot for rest day.”
– Welshman Geraint Thomas posts a picture on his instagram account from his hotel balcony overlooking a lake and mountains.
– Results from the 16th stage of the Tour de France on Monday, a 209km ride from Moirans-en-Montagne to Bern:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/TIN) 4hrs 26:02.
2. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) at 0:00.
3. Sondre Holst Enger (NOR/IAM) 0:00.
4. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 0:00.
5. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 0:00.
6. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/TRE) 0:00.
7. Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/LNL) 0:00.
8. Maximiliano Richeze (ARG/ETI) 0:00.
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 0:00.
10. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 0:00.
11. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:00.
12. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOA) 0:00.
13. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:00.
14. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:00.
15. Louis Meintjes (RSA/LAM) 0:00.
16. Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI/FDJ) 0:00.
17. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) 0:00.
18. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 0:00.
19. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:00.
20. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 0:00.
21. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 0:00.
22. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:00.
23. Mark Cavendish (GBR/DDT) 0:00.
24. Stef Clement (NED/IAM) 0:00.
25. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 0:00.
26. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:00.
27. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 0:00.
28. Daniel Martin (IRL/ETI) 0:00.
29. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:00.
30. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 0:00.
31. Julien Vermote (BEL/ETI) 0:00.
32. Simon Geschke (GER/GIA) 0:00.
33. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM) 0:00.
34. Warren Barguil (FRA/GIA) 0:10.
35. Oliver Naesen (BEL/IAM) 0:21.
36. Luis Angel Mate (ESP/COF) 0:21.
37. Borut Bozic (SLO/COF) 0:23.
38. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU/CAN) 0:33.
39. Petr Vakoc (CZE/ETI) 0:38.
40. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOA) 0:39.
– Tour de France overall standings after the 16th stage from Moirans-en-Montagne to Bern on Monday:
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) 72hrs 40:38.
2. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) at 1:47.
3. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 2:45.
4. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 2:59.
5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 3:17.
6. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 4:04.
7. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 4:27.
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 4:47.
9. Dan Martin (IRL/ETI) 5:03.
10. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 5:16.
11. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) 5:24.
12. Louis Meintjes (RSA/LAM) 5:48.
13. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 5:54.
14. Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI/FDJ) 8:40.
15. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 12:24.
16. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 12:47.
17. Pierre Rolland (FRA/CAN) 13:03.
18. Warren Barguil (FRA/GIA) 19:15.
19. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 27:00.
20. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 28:23.
21. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOA) 28:38.
22. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/TRE) 33:18.
23. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 35:05.
24. Stef Clement (NED/IAM) 36:17.
25. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 38:12.
26. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 40:00.
27. Jarlinson Pantano (COL/IAM) 43:41.
28. Frank Schleck (LUX/TRE) 46:58.
29. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 48:05.
30. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 48:23.
31. Serge Pauwels (BEL/DDT) 51:52.
32. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 53:17.
33. Bartosz Huzarski (POL/BOA) 1hr 01:00.
34. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 1hr 01:49.
35. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 1hr 02:28.
36. Steve Morabito (SUI/FDJ) 1hr 02:50.
37. Wouter Poels (NED/SKY) 1hr 03:10.
38. Daniel Moreno (ESP/MOV) 1hr 05:49.
39. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 1hr 07:33.
40. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) 1hr 11:12.