Passively interested in cycling? Nothing more than a passing patriotic interest in how the South Africans are getting on in the Tour de France? Our daily wrap is for people just like you. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Mandela Day 2015 holds fond memories for those who follow cycling with a passing interest. Stephen Cummings, riding for Qhubeka, won Stage 14 at the Tour de France. For those who like sentimentality, it was a wonderful moment.
This year’s tour has been much tougher for Team Dimension Data (riding for Qhubeka). They lost Mark Cavendish early on and have been ever-so-close to a stage win on several occasions – and Tuesday was no different.
Edvald Boasson Hagen finished within a spoke from stage winner Michael Matthews as yet another Australian crushed a South African sporting dream.
What happened on Stage 16?
It was pretty steady away for most of the race. Well, as steady away as people cycling for long distances after almost three weeks can be. What we’re trying to say is: nobody elbowed anyone and nobody was booted out of the race.
Conditions were tough, with riders battling strong winds from all directions at times. For the final 20km, the peloton spilt into two and those on the wrong side struggled. The rest kept things speedy, hovering at around 45-50km/h for much of the final stretch.
And then things finished with a tense sprint which saw three riders finish spoke-in-spoke as the race continues to build up to an epic final few days.
Jarlinson Pantano crashed badly and, you guessed it, the cameras missed it. He looked quite badly hurt, but at the time of writing there was no update on his condition. He did finish the stage, though, so perhaps it looked worse than it was. Serge Pauwels also crashed, but not too badly.
How are the South Africans doing?
Louis Meintjes is still having the tour of his life and he remains eighth overall in the general classification, but is now almost four minutes behind the youth classification leader, Simon Yates. Daryl Impey is sitting in 59th overall. Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Venter, both Dimension Data riders, are in the top 100, but their jobs aren’t to win stages. Janse van Rensburg has been superb in his support for Boasson Hagen. In the team classification, Dimension Data are now 21st, they can still catch a few teams in front of them.
What can we expect on Stage 17?
Wednesday brings a short 183km pedal from La Mure to Serre Chevalier, where two big mountain passes will dominate the stage. The Col du Galibier is part of the route for the 33rd time and for the first time since 2011. The rider who reaches the top first will be rewarded with the Souvenir Henri Desgrange in memory of the tour’s founder.
“It was a hard stage but the team did really well to keep me up front all day. I was a bit too far back in the last corner, I knew that I needed to be up at the front, but sometimes it happens that you’re a little too far back. Today, I almost had it but I didn’t quite make it.” – Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Who is the current yellow jersey wearer?
Chris Froome is still holding on. Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet, Rigoberto Uran and a few others all remain in contention. DM
Photo: Michael Matthews (2-L) of Australia, Edvald Boasson Hagen (R) of Norway and John Degenkolb (L) of Germany sprint for the win during the 16th stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race over 165 km between Le Puy-en-Velay and Romans-sur-Isere, France, 18 July 2017. Matthews won ahead of second placed Boasson Hagen and third placed Degenkolb. EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT
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