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Tour de France enters last week

Yet more drama in the 2016 Tour as week three begins

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So far we've seen not only some fantastic racing, stunning scenery and nail-biting sprints from the 2016 Tour de France, but we've witnessed several unusual crashes, the yellow jersey literally running up Mont Ventoux and more than one incident of an over-enthusiastic fan causing disruption.

As the riders take time out of the racing schedule for a well deserved second rest day of the three-week road cycling race, we take a quick look at what has happened so far and what is still to come in the Tour de France 2016.

Chris Froome from Team Sky is still firmly in the lead in the overall classifications and has defended his yellow jersey well over the past week. He currently has a 1'47" lead over second placed Bauke Mollema and 2'45" over third place rider, Adam Yates. Stage 12, on France's National day, the 14th July, saw perhaps one of the most unusual days of racing in Tour history. With under 3.5km to go in the race up the legendary Mont Ventoux in Provence, Chris Froome attacked and took Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema with him. Within seconds the crowds of fans seemed to have closed in around them and the motorbike in front of them came to a sudden stop. All three riders crashed into the back of it. Luckily there were no serious injuries but whilst Mollema and Porte got back on their bikes, Froome had a mechanical issue and was left stranded without the support of a team car to replace his bike. For the first time ever, the yellow jersey was seen running some few hundred metres up the road in an attempt to lessen the damage caused by the crash. 

Chris Froome in yellow running up mont ventoux in provence, le tour 2016


At the end of the stage the race adjudicators took swift action and reviewed the classification standings so that no one was penalised by the incident. This decision allowed Froome to keep his yellow jersey without losing or gaining any time on his main rivals. Friday was a different story, however, with the time trial between Bourg Saint Andeol and La Caverne du Pont d'Arc. Tom Dumoulin from Team Giant-Alpecin, took a convincing victory amidst the sadness of the day. The terror attacks the previous evening in Nice in the south of France that left 84 people dead was very much in the forefront of people's minds. The podium ceremony was altered and acted as a tribute to those who lost their lives, with the winners placing their bouquets of flowers together on the top step. 

The winners show respect for the lives lost in Nice terror attack, le tour de france 2016


For me it was a normal day on the bike, like every day, but I feel very sad for the people who lost their loved ones. I'm fortunate that nobody in my family was in Nice last night, we live in Monaco and it's very near. At least I'm happy that we, at the Tour de France, have showed some respect for the people who died. It'll remain in our heads.” - Peter Sagan, green jersey.

Stage 14 on Saturday brought yet another stage victory for sprinter Mark Cavendish, taking his grand total of Tour stages to thirty and four in the 2016 Tour. He outsprinted Alexander Kristoff and the green jersey of Peter Sagan to cross the line first in the bunch sprint at Parc des Oiseaux in Villars les Dombes.

Mark Cavendish crosses the line for fourth victory in the 2016 tour de france


As time gaps amongst the top-three general classification contenders remained unchanged throughout Sunday and Monday's racing, Chris Froome expresses his surprise that none of his main rivals attacked him on Sunday's mountain stage from Bourg en Bresse to Culoz. Jarlinson Pantano took the victory, the first ever for Team IAM from Switzerland.

A great day of racing on Monday saw another deviation from the Tour de France rule book with Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe from Team Etixx-QuickStep sharing the 'most aggressive rider' award after a long breakaway. 

The more experienced Tony Martin was seen to be doing the lion's share of the work, setting an example for the 24-year-old Frenchman, Alaphilippe. "In my eyes Tony deserves the award much more than me because I was just clinging on behind him," joked Alaphilippe after the race.

Team IAM take their first ever tour victory in Culoz, tour de france 2016


Now with a rest day in the beautiful Swiss capital of Bern, the riders will have time to recover, go for a gentle ride with plenty of coffee stops and fulfill their media duties, ahead of the next Alpine stages. Stage 17 on Wednesday has the peloton leaving Berne and making their way towards the French border to finish at the Emosson Dam, close to Chamonix and the majestic Mont Blanc. This is the first of four particularly difficult stages that will most certainly decide the final winner of the 2016 Tour de France ahead of the Paris stage on Sunday. An individual time trial from Sallanches to Megeve will sort the men from the boys as this 17km uphill race could see time deficits change dramatically between the top ten riders. As Geraint Thomas puts it, "Any decent climber could have a good day. I don't think Chris Froome has any advantage - it's just riding up a hill as fast as you can."

view from Emosson dam over to mont blanc


Stage 19 on Friday 22nd July will take the riders from Albertville to a finish in Saint Gervais, in the shadows of Mont Blanc. Another difficult mountain stage that could see people attacking and in particular attacking the yellow jersey. The final competitive stage of the Tour is Stage 20 from Megeve to Morzine on Saturday 23rd July. Although the stage win will be up for grabs on the Sunday in Paris, the overall winner of the Tour and the yellow jersey will be decided by the end of Saturdays stage in Morzine. 

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