Peter Sagan won his third stage of the Tour de France, beating out home favourite Fabian Cancellara in Bern
Sagan can’t stop winning
It was always going to happen, wasn’t it? Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) is no longer the guy who comes second all the time, so these kind of stages with finishes that resemble spring Classics are pretty much made for the world champion.
A long, cobbled drag in the final two kilometres was the one that split the peloton and when Sagan was prowling on the wheel of Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) in the final kilometre it looked pretty clear.
But his fellow Tour of Flanders winner, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), wasn’t going to let Sagan romp to victory without a challenge, taking the race right to the line and only losing out by millimetres.
Kristoff is turning into the new Sagan – finishing second in Tour stages, as he has on two of the last three stages. He’s peaking just in time for a long slog through the Alps before Paris.
No fairytale win for Fabian
He was in contention up the cobbled climb and even into the flat final kilometre, but perhaps it was too long a sprint to the line for the 35-year-old to properly challenge.
Had the finish line been at the top of the climb he could have been right up there with a chance, but he was never going to out-sprint the likes of Sagan and Kristoff.
Don’t be surprised if Cancellara leaves the Tour on the rest day, given that he lives 4km from the finish line, what with the tough mountain stages left to come.
Watch: Tour de France 2016 stage 16 highlights
Joint winners of the combativity award
We’ve seen two-man breakaways before, but rarely are both men from the same team. Julian Alaphilippe and Tony Martin ensured that Etixx-Quick Step was the only team represented in the front group and set off at quite a pace.
It’s no surprise with powerhouse Martin in the group that nearly 50km were travelled in the first hour and Alaphilippe sometimes huffed and puffed to stay on his wheel.
It looked doomed from the outset, and even when they had a five minute gap there was no way that the peloton would just let the pair go for the stage win.
For their efforts, both Martin and Alaphilippe were awarded with the Antargaz combativity award for the most attacking rider.
Given that Martin seemed to do the vast majority of the grunt work it seems a bit unfair to give Alaphilippe the prize as well, especially after refusing to award Armindo Fonseca for being in the breakaway all day on his own on stage three.
Will Cavendish go home?
Cycling Weekly understands that the Manxman will not start stage 17 on Wednesday after the rest day in order to recuperate for the Olympic Games in August, but the draw of a fifth win of the Tour in Paris could prove too much.
Cavendish surprised a few people by being in the front group at the top of the climb on stage 15, but faded to finish well out of contention on the sprint. Would he have put in so much effort had he been planning to make it to Paris? Probably not.
What’s the point of the intermediate sprint?
Apart from the final five kilometres, it was another relatively boring day at the Tour de France. Normally on such days we can at least rely on the intermediate sprint to throw up some fleeting excitement, but not today.
It’s got to the point where nobody is even bothering to challenge Peter Sagan for the green jersey, so everyone is saving their legs for the stage finish.
On the intermediate sprint on the way to Berne, Sagan simply rolled over the line ahead of Cavendish to mop up even more points. Cavendish didn’t even attempt to get past him and nobody gave even an ounce of energy to get on Cavendish’s wheel.
The green jersey is a prestigious award, but when it’s so heavily biased towards doing well in the intermediate sprints there’s no way that anyone can beat Sagan to the title.
Cavendish had won two more stages than Sagan before the latter’s win in Bern, but still sat well back in the classification and now the competition is pretty much wrapped up.
Surely the organisers need to do something to make it a bit more of a battle in future years?