Tour de France 2017: Michael Matthews Wins Stage 16, Reduces Points Gap

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2017

Australia's Michael Matthews celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 181.5 kilometers (112.8 miles) with start in Blagnac and finish in Rodez, France, Saturday, July 15, 2017. Belgium's Thomas De Gendt, left, finished second. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Sunweb's Michael Matthews took a close sprint win in Stage 16 of the 2017 Tour de France on Tuesday, reducing the gap at the top of the point standings in the process.

The peloton battled crosswinds all day long, with plenty of riders dropping back as a result. One of the main victims was Marcel Kittel, who had to watch as Matthews pulled closer to claiming the green jersey.         

Here's a look at Tuesday's results, via CyclingHub:

The current general classification, per the Inner Ring:

Recap

Tuesday's stage was seen as something of a transitional stage toward the Alps, with an early breakaway and an eventual bunch sprint expected.

As shared by Captain Smith, green jersey leader Kittel fell behind early, and the top sprint teams in the peloton worked hard to keep the German from returning:

Crosswinds only complicated matters, with the finale at Romans-sur-Isere posing real problems for the peloton. The wind broke the peloton in half, and instead of a breakaway, the riders were divided into a massive, strong group racing toward a sprint, and a chasing group filled with the likes of Kittel.

Nacer Bouhanni managed to bridge the gap, a remarkable achievement given the absurd pace of the stage. Michal Kwiatkowski couldn't even enjoy a food break, as he was forced to chase once again just as he picked up his musette, per Eurosport's Felix Lowe:

As the peloton turned straight into a headwind to begin the finale, Dan Martin lost touch with the leaders, and Fabio Aru had to battle hard to stay at the front.

Greg van Avermaet opened the sprint early, but Matthews passed him and held off Edvald Boasson Hagen to the line.

Martin dropped two places in the GC and Alberto Contador dropped out of the top 10 altogether. The gap between Matthews and Kittel is just 29 points. 

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