The Grand Départ of the 2016 Tour de France in Mont-Saint-Michel seems a long time ago – a lot has happened in three weeks in July.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) kicked the race off with a sprint win at Utah Beach, donning the yellow jersey of race leader for the first time in his career. He would go on to win four stages in total, and edge closer to Eddy Merckx‘s record for the number of Tour stage wins. Cavendish on 30, Merckx on 34.
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World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) barely had a chance to wear his rainbow bands, wearing both the yellow and green jerseys throughout the race. He would win three stages in all, and be a constant factor in virtually every stage to claim his fifth consecutive points classification win.
The race also saw the emergence and confirmation of new Tour stars: the likes of Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Yates placed fourth overall, and became the first Briton to win the white jersey of best young rider.
There was also a decent scrap for the polka-dot jersey of King of the Mountains, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) engaged in a climbing battle, with Majka coming out on top – literally.
And, of course, there was Chris Froome, who won on stage eight after a thrilling downhill attack before defending the yellow jersey through two eventful weeks and eventually celebrating his third Tour win in Paris on Sunday, July 24.
Although Team Sky did its efficient best to prevent Froome’s rivals from attacking and gaining any time, it was the Tour itself that proved to be one of Froome’s biggest rivals. The sight of seeing Froome running on Mont Ventoux after breaking his bike and him crashing on a wet descent in the yellow jersey are moments that will be woven into the race’s history in its 103 editions.