Van Avermaet Sprints to Fourth on Chaotic Tour de France Stage 1618. July 2017, Romans-sur-Isère (FRA) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to fourth place on a chaotic stage 16 which saw crosswinds wreak havoc and a breakaway fail to form throughout the 165km stage.
Stefan Küng was the first rider to attack as soon as the flag was dropped at kilometer 0. A dozen riders followed suit but the peloton kept up the chase until the race was back together.
Multiple unsuccessful attacks followed, including one from Alessandro De Marchi, but a split in the peloton on the first catgegorized climb saw Team Sunweb take control of the race and work to increase the gap between the two groups.
The fast pace set at the front of the bunch meant no breakaway could go away and with points on offer at the late intermediate sprint, it was a battle of the sprinters’ teams before the chase group sat up and allowed the gap to move out to more than six minutes.
Crosswinds in the final 20km split the peloton and created a leading group of 25 or so riders, with Van Avermaet joined by Damiano Caruso, Stefan Küng, Nicolas Roche and Michael Schär.
The gap to the two chase groups behind began to increase and with 5km to go, Van Avermaet’s group had a 500-meter advantage on the second group which featured two of the top ten riders on the General Classification.
Van Avermaet launched his sprint with 400 meters to go and led the sprint 250 meters before the line, but was passed by eventual winner Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
Van Avermaet settled for fourth place while Caruso’s presence in the front group saw him move up to ninth on the General Classification, just five seconds off eighth place.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was a really hard stage all day long. I’m happy with how we rode. I think everyone was always in the front and we were never surprised which is how you have to be in these kinds of races. So I’m really proud of the team. Ok, we didn’t win but I think the most important thing is that you do everything right and then the result will also be pretty nice. I think it was a pretty hectic final. I didn’t know the corners very well. You can look in the book but I was a bit surprised that it was such a hard corner and I had to brake a little bit harder than expected. I think with the head wind it was really hard but I tried.”
“Yesterday I talked with the directors and they said that tomorrow there is going to be wind. So I thought that maybe it would be possible that there would be gaps in the last 20km. This is what happened. It was a good day for us. We’re still missing a victory but it is good that we improved our position on GC.”
“To be honest, today was a stage where I said it doesn’t matter how much experience I have, I have no idea how it is going to turn out. Any scenario could have happened and this was one that we didn’t really talk about but it happened two years ago in the Tour. We had a chat about it this morning and we said “let’s really stay in the front just in case and let’s go after the climb” but Team Sky did it. At least we were in position and we helped the move go as far as possible for two reasons: because Damiano was there and we could pick up some seconds and two, because Greg was there and it was a great finish for him.”
Tour de France
Stage 16 Le Puy-en-Velay > Romans-sur-Isère (165km)
Top 3: 1. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), 2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), 3. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 4. Greg Van Avermaet, 17. Damiano Caruso, 22. Stefan Küng.
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