20/07/15 - 11:40
Bourg-de-Péage - Gap
Tour de France • Stage16

Bourg-de-Péage - Gap

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Thomas loses 38 seconds there - a small price to pay after such a big scare. Apart from that, there's no change in the overall standings as Chris Froome stays in yellow on a day won by Spanish veteran Ruben Plaza. See you after the rest day!


Geraint Thomas is being paced to the line by Sky team-mate Wout Poels - a wonderful sight after such a big scare.


Nibali has opened up a 22-second gap - marginal gains. Froome will be more concerned with the health of Thomas than any small gains made by a rider very much out of the frame.


Big relief there - news that Thomas is back on his bike.


Thomas had no choice there - Barguil hit him from nowhere and sent him sprawling. No word on his health yet - fingers crossed. He hit the pole with the back of his head and then fell down a slope off the road.


CRASH: Barguil loses his footing on a bend, unclips and barges into Thomas, who is sent flying into a telegraph pole, which he hits with his head en route to falling down a small ravine. Terrible luck for the Welshman. Let's hope he's ok!


Barguil is back with this group - he must have been caught and passed by Nibali.


Valverde is reeled in and now has Thomas and Froome on his wheel on the descent, with Quintana just behind. Nibali has 13 seconds on the group.


The main favourites still have 10km to ride of this stage, and it's Valverde who attacks first on the plateau ahead of the descent.


Froome still has Poels and Thomas with him as they crest the summit 15 seconds after Nibali, who has just behind Barguil.


There's no Thibaut Pinot or Tony Gallopin in this group. Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali attacks, and it's Robert Gesink who leads the chase.


Valverde and Contador lead the group of main favourites after a little dig from Romain Bardet. Warren Barguil is the next rider to ping clear and open up a gap.


The remnants of the break cross the line in dribs and drabs - and attention will now turn to the main pack, who are still on the climb of the Col du Manse.


Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) takes third ahead of Simon Geschke of Gian-Alpecin.


Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) grimaces and punches his chest in anger as he crosses the line for second place, 30-odd seconds down...


Ruben Plaza does up his jersey, sucks his thumb and pumps the air with his firsts - victory for the Spaniard from Lampre-Merida.


He's already celebrating with a fist pump...


Under the 1-to-go banner for Plaza - he had the guts to attack on the climb and it's paid off.


Plaza will be getting information in his earpiece - he knows exactly what he has to do, and he will do it.


Just 30 seconds now but the descent is over and they're onto the flat road into Gap.


Plaza with a Rui Costa-esque performance - he has 35 seconds now over Sagan.


It's 43 seconds now - he may well have left it too late. Sagan has Pantano on the rivet.


There's still a 50-second gap for Plaza...


SAGAN OVERCOOKS A BEND!! He almost comes off... but manages to continue, with Pantano in his wheel.


Tinkoff and Sky lead the peloton... 18:30 down.


Now Sagan goes when the descent starts proper. Pantano manages to bridge the gap. Further ahead, Plaza almost stacks it on one bend... tension!


Under the 10-to-go banner and it's looking like Sagan may get another second place - they're all marking him and he's doing all the work himself, while Plaza rides with over a minute...


Sky still leading the peloton at the start of the climb back with the main pack, but Tinkoff-Saxo are edging forward. We have two races now.


Sagan leads the break over the summit but it's well over a minute behind Plaza and so it will be tough for Sagan and the chasers. No one else is willing to give him a hand on this plateau ahead of the descent.


Plaza crests the summit to pick up 5pts. Start the clock...


Geschke has a big dig - and once again it's Sagan who closes the German down.


Sagan and De Gendt lead the chase for the group of nine in pursuit of Plaza, who is 1km from the summit. The Spaniard has just under a minute to play with - but he'll need that for the 12km descent to Gap.


Meanwhile, back with the peloton the pace has increased dramatically ahead of the climb, with LottoNL-Jumbo - who missed the break - driving the pace onto the Col de Manse.


The chasers are: Pantano, Sagan, Geschke, Jungels, Voeckler, Teklehaimanot, Riblon, De Gendt and Mate. They're still about 40 seconds down on Plaza.


Voeckler has been joined by four other riders and they're going to join the chasing quartet soon.


Riblon attacks from the chasing group but Sagan has it covered. Behind, Tommy Voeckler is riding back...


Lone leader Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida) has 30 seconds on the chasing quartet. He's 5km from the summit and the peloton is now 21 minutes down.


Hansen and Haller are no longer with the leaders, so we have Geschke, Sagan, Teklehaimanot and Riblon combining in pursuit of Ruben Plaza, the Spaniard.


Riblon is leading the chase to Plaza, the Lampre-Merida rider who is out ahead. They all know that Sagan is the danger man on the descent so they will have to shed him in this climb - but it's the green jersey who is setting tempo now after Riblon drops back.


Sagan is one of five riders leading the chase - with Geschke, Plaza, Riblon and Teklehaimanot. They reach the leaders - and then Plaza steps on the pedals.


The break has all split up now, and he leading duo only have 20 seconds.


Haller looks completely cooked on the climb - no surprise, he's a big unit. Further back, it's Sagan setting the tempo until Simon Geschke rides clear with Riblon in pursuit.


Hansen and Haller are onto the Cat.2 Col de Manse (8.9km at 5.6%).


Serge Pauwels overcooks a sweeping left-hander and may have dropped a chain. He'll have to chase back onto the break ahead of the climb.


The leaders are onto that descent towards the outskirts of Gap ahead of the final climb. The leading duo have one minute now, with the peloton now at 19 minutes. Any idea what the cut-off time is today?


Hansen and Haller have 50 seconds over the chasers - which includes Peter Sagan, the green jersey. Hansen is wearing a Lotto Soudal skin suit, it's perhaps worth adding. Meanwhile, the peloton is now more than 17 minutes down.


Haller has actually attacked before Hansen, taking Boasson Hagen and Oliviera with him - but that man Sagan reeled them in single-handedly. Hansen then countered.


Haller, the Austrian national champion, has joined Hansen so we have two riders out ahead. The road continues its false flat uphill until a short drop into Gap before the final climb.


Hansen has 15 seconds over Haller, 30 seconds over the break and 16:15 over the peloton.


Marco Haller (Katusha) has pinged off the front of the break in pursuit of Adam Hansen. Meanwhile, Team Sky front the peloton around 16 minutes in arrears - they're taking a pre-rest day rest day. Or at least will be - until the Col de Manse and its treacherous descent.


Hansen dislocated his shoulder in that huge pile-up in stage 3 and has been riding with considerable pain since. This proves that he may be back to his best - and it's good to see. The Aussie rouleur - riding his 12th consecutive Grand Tour - has about 25 seconds to play with.


Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) has attacked the break - and they've let the Australian veteran go.


Things are getting a little nervous and feisty in the break ahead of the second Cat.2 climb. The gap is over 15 minutes now so they all know that one of them will win today in Gap - and that has given some of the riders the jitters...


Look out for: Alberto Contador edging clear on the final descent: the Spaniard did just that in 2011 to take over a minute from rival Andy Schleck, who later criticised Tour organisers for including such a technical descent so close to the finish in Gap. Contador showed similar downhill skills in June's Route de Sud race, while if it's raining, no one is better as negotiating a testing descent than Vincenzo Nibali. These guys may attack from the main peloton, but in front Peter Sagan will surely do his best to shed his fellow escapees - or to catch up those who crest the summit ahead of him.


The gap for the 23 leaders is 12:30 and Peter Sagan has another dig - he's really making his fellow escapees work in this break. He may pay for that when they attack him on the next climb. The green jersey is joined by Grivko of Astana. They're trying to shed some of this break ahead of the next ascent, it seems.


Peter Sagan was leading the break on the descent but then eased up - to the relief of his fellow escapees. He shares a joke with Matteo Trentin, who has an ice pack on his neck, and then it's all smiles in the break. Pierre-Luc Perichon was distanced a little on the downhill - the Frenchman has been very active in this year's Tour, with breaks in stages 5, 8 and 13 already.


Serge Pauwels picks up 5pts over the summit of the Col de Cabre ahead of Thomas De Gendt (3pts), Edvald Boasson Hagen (2pts) and Marco Haller (1pt).


Majka currently receiving a bit of medical attention to his knee as he holds onto the doctor's car behind the pack. He'll be ok.


CRASH: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo) go down in a tangle in the peloton. The Pole, who won at Cauterets in the Pyrenees, looks to have banged his knee a little. He's hobbling around and cursing his luck, but will be on his way shortly.


The leaders are 6km from the summit of the first climb of the day, the Cat.2 Col de Cabre (9.1km at 4.6%). It has been used twice before in the Tour - in 2010, when Alberto Benitez crested in pole position, and in 1996, when that honour went to Richard Virenque.


The gap is up to 11 minutes now so our stage winner will come from this break - that's pretty much guaranteed. Sagan is currently riding with his jersey zipped - he looks cooked, this is after all his third break in as many stages.


Did you know: Canadian Ryder Hesjedal has twice crossed the summit of the Col de Manse in pole position - in 2011 and 2013. The summit of the second-category climb comes 12 from the finish in Gap today. It’s one of the few climbs renowned more for its descent than ascent - remember that horrible crash when Joseba Beloki went down and Armstrong was forced to take evasive action in a field? Well, that was on the same descent...


MTN-Qhubeka have three riders in this break with Pauwels, Boasson Hagen and the popular Teklehaimanot, who became the first African to wear the polka dot jersey back in the opening week of the race. Could a second stage win be on the cards following Steve Cummings' victory in Mende on Saturday?


Kennaugh was the first Sky rider to pack his bags - and the 29th rider to quit this year's demanding Tour. Just four teams still have their full compliment of nine riders - as you can see below...


So, we now have 23 riders out ahead - with Laurent Didier in pursuit after the Trek rider was distanced. The leaders have 10 minutes over the pack and are: Grivko (Astana), Riblon (Ag2R), Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), De Gendt and Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Geschke (Giant Alpecin), Haller (Katusha), Irizar and Jungels (Trek), Oliveira and Plaza (Lampre), Navarro (Cofidis), Erviti (Movistar), Golas and Trentin (Etixx), Voeckler (Europcar), Mate (Cofidis), Pantano (Cannondale-Garmin), Fedrigo and Perichon (Bretagne Séché), Boasson-Hagen, Pauwels and Teklehaimanot (MTN).


The two leading groups finally come back together through the feedzone. The gap is 9:25 and what better time to do our daily plat du jour offering... The locals can't get enough of their deep-fried tourtons - small, ravioli-style square fritters filled with spinach, potatoes, prunes or apples. Ravioles du Champseur are also popular - deep fried dumpling-style croquettes filled with wild spinach in spring, trout or nettles in the summer, foie gras and chestnuts in the winter. To drink? The Hautes-Alpes produces mainly table wine but in the nearby Alpes de Haute-Provence there are some highly regarded wines including the Rouge Reserve from Domaine La Blaque, and their popular rosé, Tradition.


Sky have come to the front of the pack to control the pace as the break's advantage swells to 8:40. There's no real threat in the leading group, with Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) the best placed at 40:36. In the second group, which is still a minute back, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) is the best placed at 34:44.


Alberto Contador pulls to the side of the road to swap bikes. The moto cameraman stops to film this - but thankfully there's no water bottle-hurling from the Tinkoff-Saxo mechanics today. Unlike yesterday, of course...


History: The likes of Rui Costa, Thor Hushovd, Sergio Paulinho, Pierrick Fedrigo, Alexandre Vinokourov and Erik Zabel have all won in Gap in the past 20 years. Portuguese former world champion Costa's win was the most recent - and the first of two mountain victories in the final week of the 2013 Tour for the former Movistar all-rounder. Shame he’s no longer around to feature on Monday…


The peloton is taking things very easy now - they seem to have agreed to let those leaders stay out. The gap is up to 6:30, with the second group still rolling along around one minute in arrears.


Puncture for Team Sky's Richie Porte, who picks up a wheel from the neutral Mavic car. Astana and Etixx-QuickStep set the tempo on the front of the pack.


Peter Sagan wins the intermediate sprint at Die without much ado. De Gendt crossed the line for second place - but the Slovakian was about 20m ahead. The peloton are still 3km away. That second group still rides at around 1:10. Sagan now has 380 points, putting him 64 ahead of Greipel. Game over.


The gap is 5:45 and Carlton Kirby reckons this break is going to make it. Those two climbs will be key, with riders like Riblon, Plaza, Navarro and De Gendt holding an advantage. But remember, Sagan is one of the best descenders in the peloton... could this be his day?


It's another hot day in France - with hardly a cloud in the sky and a temperature of 30 degrees in the foothills of the Alps.


This is the third straight day that Peter Sagan has been on the offensive with the Slovakian all-rounder eager to get the monkey off his back and finally win a stage after a winless streak in France that stretches back to 2013. He now has 15 second-place finishes on the Tour de France - and yesterday we saw the Tinkoff-Saxo showman in scintillating form, pretty much ever-present in every key aspect of the race.


The peloton is 5:55 behind the leading group of 12 riders, who still hold around a minute on the second group of 12 riders.


That intermediate sprint at Die is coming up in about 25km. Sagan leads the competition on 360 points with Greipel on 316 - and the Slovakian will no doubt kill off the German's chances by taking maximum digits in Die.


Jan Barta of Bora-Argon 18 has decided to sit up and wait for the peloton after failing to get back into the second group on the road. The tailwind means the 12 leaders covered a stonking 53.6km in the opening hour of today's stage...


British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) has withdrawn from the race. The 26-year-old has been struggling throughout the race, unable to show the form that saw him excel in Froome's first Tour-winning campaign two years ago. He was 146th on GC, more than two hours down.


A reminder that Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez once again keeps the polka dot jersey warm for Chris Froome. The yellow jersey leads the king of the mountains competition on 61 points, with Rodriguez in second place on 52. Expect things to be shaken up after the rest day with four days in the Alps, including three summit finishes.


The 12 chasing riders still cannot bridge the gap - they trail by a tantalising 55 seconds with the peloton a further 5:30 back. Jan Barta is still stick in no-man's land.


The 12 leaders have 1:05 on the chasing group, with Jan Barta having been dropped and riding another 30 seconds back. The peloton is now at five minutes so this could well be a break that will stick.


A large tailwind has aided the break so far as the gap goes up to 2:15 over the pack. In the lead group we have Fedrigo, a winner in Gap back in 2006.


Some of the initial break have been swept up, including dangerman Tony Gallopin, who is only 8:23 down on GC and in ninth place. I imagine he was told in no uncertain terms by his fellow escapees to, well, do one.


There are 14 riders in a second group about 40 seconds back: Michele Scarponi (Astana), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Tony Gallopin and Adam Hansen (both Lotto-Soudal), Michal Golas and Matteo Trentin (both Etixx-QuickStep), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Laurent Didier and Markel Irizar (both Trek), Pippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) and Edvald Boasson-Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka).The peloton is 1:55 behind the leading Sagan group.


The break has split in two with 12 riders out ahead - including the man in green. They are: Andriy Grivko (Astana), Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Marco Haller (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Nelson Oliveira and Ruben Plaza Molina (both Lampre-Merida), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne-Seche-Environnement) and Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka).


Today's stage is a tale of two halves, with a flat hopening 100km - which includes the intermediate sprint at Die - followed by two testing Cat.2 climbs and the fast downhill finish off the back of the Col de Manse into Gap. More on the stage profile, plus yesterday's action and a run-through of the stories in the European papers in today's Bonjour Le Tour below...


The likes of Serge Pauwels (MTN), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Daniel Teklehaimanot (both MTN), Matteo Trentin (Etixx) and Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) are all in this break alongside Sagan.


Sagan is riding in a group of around 30 riders 25 seconds ahead of the peloton. More details coming up once we get the info through race radio.


ATTACK: A cluster of riders have made an early move - including that man Peter Sagan, the ever-present green jersey of Tinkoff-Saxo.


A reminder that Team Sky's Chris Froome leads this race by 3:10 over Nairo Quintana of Movistar, with American Tejay Van Garderen in third place for BMC at 3:32. Spaniards Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkioff-Saxo) complete the top five at 4:02 and 4:23.


They're off! Today's sixteenth stage is under way...


The riders are currently clustered together at the start town ahead of the neutral zone of today's stage. We have 170 riders remaining following the withdrawal of Greg Van Avermaet, the stage 13 winner from Belgium, who has returned home to be present at the birth of his child.


Yesterday, it was a quite day for leader Chris Froome who retained his yellow jersey while Germany's André Greipel continued his purple patch with an explosive victory in stage 15 of the Tour de France at Valence, sprinting past is rivals to secure his third win of the race.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 16 of the Tour de France as the riders approach the apron of the Alps with a 201km jolly from Bourg-de-Peage to Gap.