Rider of the week (again) – Peter Sagan
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Peter Sagan has smashed most of this second week of the Tour de France, just as he did the first week. Admittedly he did take it reasonably easy on the Pyrenean stages, but stormed back to prominence as the race transitioned to the Alps.
Not that it’s entirely fair to call stages 13 to 16 transition stages, because they certainly weren’t a walk in the park.
Sagan stamped his authority on the green jersey competition by getting out in the breakaway on stages 14, 15 and 16 and hoovering up the intermediate sprint points. Once he’d done that piece of business he knuckled down and notched up more top-five finishes.
His team boss Oleg Tinkov told ITV4 that Sagan is the strongest rider in the race this year, not Chris Froome, and his 10 top-five finishes in 15 individual stages (plus fourth in the TTT) back that hypothesis up nicely.
Sagan will likely take it easy on the upcoming Alpine stages to save energy for an assault on stage 21, looking to win on the Champs-Elysees for the first time in his career and get his first Tour win since 2013.
Surprise of the week – Steve Cummings
We all know how strong a rider Steve Cummings is, but very few people would have guessed he would win from a breakaway at this Tour de France.
What made Cummings’s ride on stage 14 even better was that he outduelled two Frenchmen, Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, in the final stages on the Mende airfield.
He had worked hard to get in a breakaway all Tour, but Saturday’s stage was when it finally came off. With the peloton happy to let the break go, it came down to the final climb up the Montée Laurent Jalabert.
Television pictures followed Pinot and Bardet as they summited the climb and started the sprint to the runway. To add to the drama the pictures only showed Cummings speeding into shot when he zoomed past the pair and won the sprint.
Winning a stage for Tour wildcards MTN-Qhubeka was massive enough, but doing it on Mandela day made it extra special.
Video of the week
Geraint Thomas ended up in a ditch on the descent of the Col de Manse on stage 16. Watch as Warren Barguil divebombs on the inside and smashes Thomas off the road.
Picture of the week
The Tour de France is well known for showing off the natural beauty of the country, but on stage 14 we witnessed some man-made magnificence as riders passed under the Millau Viaduct.
Quote of the week
“I have big balls” – that guy Peter Sagan describes how he got into three successive breakaways and managed to place top-five in each of the stages.
Stats of the week
Classification leaders after stage 16
General classification: Chris Froome (Great Britain) Team Sky
Points classification: Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Tinkoff-Saxo
Mountains classification: Chris Froome (Great Britain) Team Sky
Young rider classification: Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Movistar
General classification after stage 16
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky in 64-47-16
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3-10
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 3-32
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4-02
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 4-23
6. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 5-32
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 6-23
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 7-49
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing at 8-53
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin at 11-03
Days in race lead
Chris Froome (Team Sky): 10
Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep): 3
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing): 1
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing): 1
Stages completed: 16
Stages to go: 5
Distance ridden: 2654.8km
Distance to go: 705.5km
Stage winners so far
Stage one: Rohan Dennis (Australia) BMC Racing
Stage two: André Greipel (Germany) Lotto-Soudal
Stage three: Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) Katusha
Stage four: Tony Martin (Germany) Etixx-QuickStep
Stage five: André Greipel (Germany) Lotto-Soudal
Stage six: Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) Etixx-QuickStep
Stage seven: Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) Etixx-QuickStep
Stage eight: Alexis Vuillermoz (France) Ag2r La Mondiale
Stage nine: BMC Racing (team time trial)
Stage 10: Chris Froome (Great Britain) Team Sky
Stage 11: Rafal Majka (Poland) Tinkoff-Saxo
Stage 12: Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) Katusha
Stage 13: Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) BMC Racing
Stage 14: Steve Cummings (Great Britain) MTN-Qhubeka
Stage 15: André Greipel (Germany) Lotto-Soudal
Stage 16: Rubén Plaza (Spain) Lampre-Merida
Stage wins by nation (not including TTT)
Great Britain: 3
Czech Republic: 1
Stage wins by team
BMC Racing: 3
Ag2r La Mondiale: 1
Team Sky: 1
Watch highlights from stage 16 of the Tour de France