Ruben Plaza wins his first tour stage!

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July 21, 2015 12:45 am

Peter Sagan has really proven that he is indeed a top quality rider. He leads the point’s classification and will win the Green jersey for the 4th consecutive year. However a stage win still eludes him. Despite being the breakaway this stage, he was not able to catch stage winner, Rubén Plaza of Lampre-Merdia. It’s his first stage win at the Tour de France and his first in a Grand Tour in 10 years after winning a stage in the 2005 Vuelta.

Stage 16 Map. Image courtesy of Tour de France website

The stage starts in Bourg-de-Péage and ends 201 kms later in Gap, the capital of the department of Hautes-Alpes. The course sees a gradual increase in altitude. The first 105 kms track sees a gradual ascent from approximately 200 meters in altitude to 545 metres at the 105 km mark. The intermediate sprint takes place at the 86.5 km mark. The latter half of the stage has two Category 2 climbs. The last climb’s summit is 11 kms from the finish with a downhill finish. This stage is the final before the 2nd rest day at Gap.

Stage 16 profile. Image courtesy of Tour de France website

29 riders attacked right from the start of the stage. For the 3rd consecutive day, Peter Sagan was in the thick of it. Wearing the Red Number to indicate last stage’s most combative rider, Sagan and 11 others broke off from this group of to form the new leaders. The day seemed to get even sweeter for the Slovak rider who won the intermediate sprint, with Andre Greipel not in the group. This means Sagan has now won the Points Classification (the next time sprinters can shine is only on the finale).

The breakaway continued to build momentum and increase the lead on the Peloton which was more than content to sit back. From the breakaway, numerous attacks were made by the Slovakian rider who was able to organize a successful chase. Plaza made his move 3 kms from the top of the second and final categorized climb. He nearly lost control on the downhill, but was able to keep a sizeable gap. Sagan would once again finish second, 30 seconds behind Plaza.

Plaza being escorted by his team after winning stage 16.

The attention then turned to the arrival of the General Contender favorites group. Nibali was the first to attack. He would keep his lead as his rivals tried to reel them in. A few kilometres from the finish, Warren Barguil lost his footing and banged into Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas. Thomas hit a telephone pole and fell down a small ravine. He was fine and would finish 38 seconds on the group containing Froome and other favourites. Nibali on the other hand, managed to gain a 22 second advantage on the rivals. The first time the defending champion had some good news. He will be looking forward to now attacking in the Alps after a good day of rest. He has now moved up a place to 8th overall.

Geraint Thomas talking to Froome at the finish after a nasty fall before the finish.

 

The General Classification Top 20

Overall General Classification. Image courtesy of Tour de France website

The Points Classification Top 20

Points Classification. Image courtesy of Tour de France website

The King of the Mountains top 20

King of the Mountains Classification. Image courtesy of Tour de France website

With a rest day tomorrow, the sprinters will now be out of the equation when the race resumes on Wednesday. Even Peter Sagan, who has been in the breaks won’t be able to keep up with the General Contender’s in the mountains. The Alps are a brutal playground where the Tour will be won. Chris Froome and Team Sky know their rivals are no doubt plotting a move in the Alps, and will need to draw up their own plans to counter them and keep their leader in Yellow.

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