Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan once again delivered plenty of action in a dedicated effort at the front of the race. Following a blazing descent, Sagan took 2nd place behind stage winner Plaza and extended his green jersey lead to 94 points. Meanwhile, team captain Contador notes that he felt much better in the tough finale going into gap.
After crossing the finish line of stage 16 to Gap, Peter Sagan notes that he found it difficult to establish common ground in the effort to bridge the gap to the eventual stage winner Rubén Plaza but that he remains fairly content with the outcome of the stage.
“If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort. I might have some bad luck because everybody is looking at me in the race and follows me, when I try. Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open.
"I knew the descent from two years ago and from seeing it on television with the Beloki crash. I was again very close. I'm glad because I was going for second place. No, I'm joking.
"I really don't know what I should do better. I tried everything. I knew I had to try as hard as I could in the descent even if it meant dying. I was the one pulling in the climb because nobody wanted to race with me. When the Lotto riders went, nobody chased behind him while they all went after me.
"Well, I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and every day something can happen and I have to make it to Paris”, says Peter Sagan before adding about the impressive support on the French roads:
“I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on - it’s really nice. Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters”.
Stage 16 from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap took the riders 201km into the Alps with two cat. 2 climbs on the final part of the stage. As Peter Sagan crossed the line in Gap as part of the breakaway, Alberto Contador and the rest of the squad embarked on the finishing climb Col de Manse followed by its fast descent towards the line, where the GC favorites tested each other.
“Today has been much better, but there was a lot of wind on the climb, which made it complicated. I think that when I attacked, some people had a little trouble but it was complicated to continue alone. Now I have a day of rest to recover and then we face the Alps, where we will see how it goes. In the Alps, I have to look for opportunities – this is a different Tour for me because I have big time differences to other riders and I’m not at the same strength as in other Tours so I have to look for other opportunities and if I find them I will try. Today was not a day for big opportunities, the margin was very small, just a few seconds, I tried and then Nibali tried but it was just a question of seconds. But a lot of challenges still remain in the Alps, where we will try”, comments Alberto Contador.
"I decided that I'd have a go. There were a lot of good riders alongside us in that group, like Samuel Sanchez, who descend very quickly as well. As a result when we set off in pursuit of Nibali and were quickly able to reduce the gap.
"There's absolutely no chance I'm in the same form as I was at the Giro d'Italia earlier this season, obviously. It was a dream to try to win both the Giro and the Tour, but it's not easy to do. You start the race and it's a very hard first week, and you don't have the sensations that you know will lead you to victory.
"The principal objective of being here is to win the yellow jersey, we didn't come here to just take part. In the first week it was really hard for me. I knew I needed to try to attack and pick up time there and wasn't able to. The second week was hard as well. In the third week in the Alps, I still think there's an opportunity.
"Sky is a very strong team, Thomas is doing really well, but there are other members of the team who aren't great. We're still a long way from Paris, and I think maybe we'll be able to do something against Sky.
"Anything can happen in the run-in. I have to congratulate Peter Sagan. He's been quite remarkable in this Tour de France, he's attacking every day, trying hard every day. I was really sorry he didn't win today because he really deserved it. Hopefully he can win a stage next week. We'll have a strategy of attacking, no doubt.
Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh underlines that Peter Sagan’s effort had been impressive, while the squad received great news from teammate Ivan Basso in Italy.
“First and foremost, I think it was very impressive that Peter was once again in the break on such a hard stage. Then it was naturally unfortunate that he was second once again. I don’t think that he could have tried any harder, but the problem is that he is so strong that everybody is looking to him to make a move. Additionally, he has been active or in the break on almost every stage, so with such a big group as we had today, there’s a big chance that there will be a rider, who is fresher than him”, tells Steven de Jongh before adding about the race that took place among the favorites.
“In what concerns the peloton and the race between the GC contenders, I would say that it was difficult to make any big difference on the climb. Alberto tried but there will be more terrain in the coming days. Also, we now have a good lead in the points classification, Peter indeed deserves that lead after his effort and it’s looking well at the moment. The best news of the day came from Italy, where we learnt that Ivan doesn’t need any extra treatment after the whole tumor was removed. We are all very, very happy to hear this”, finishes de Jongh.
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