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"So we're very happy to finish ahead of them and win the stage. Beating Nibali in a downhill is something that counts in a career but Pantano also descents very well. I'm super happy."



23.07.2016 @ 23:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On the final day that the team could realistically hope for the win, Ion Izagirre saved the Tour de France for Movistar by claiming his second grand tour stage win with an excellent display of descending skills in Morzine on stage 20 of the race. Having gauged his effort perfectly on the climb to make it back to the leaders, he dropped Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the tricky, wet descent and soloed to victory on the final mountain stage of the race. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) were the only GC riders to attack and was rewarded by moving into the top 10 while Chris Froome (Sky) finished safely to virtually secure the overall victory ahead of Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).


We have gathered several reactions


Ion Izagirre: To beat Nibali on a descent is something that counts

Things are not as they commence, rather than as they finish. After three long weeks of struggling and pressure, the Movistar Team will complete its 2016 Tour de France, still one stage remaining in the traditional Champs-Élysées in Paris, with one stage victory (Saturday’s grueling, 146.5km trek between Megève and Morzine) and a third place in the overall general classification. Ion Izagirre flew to success in Morzine, following an impressive descent of the Col de Joux Plane which saw him leave Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) behind, and claimed his maiden stage win in the Tour de France under a deluge which added epic notes to the biggest achievement in the Basque allrounder’s pro career – a triumph which completes a magnificent 2016 for him, with GC podiums in Romandie and Suisse plus the Spanish time trial championships last month in Alicante. It was a huge moment of joy for the team and one to make tribute to older brother Gorka, who had to leave the Grande Boucle just four days before the end due to a crash.


In turn, Colombian Nairo Quintana all but secured his third spot overall, always pending the final march. Quintana will be joined by Romain Bardet (ALM), runner-up, and the winner of this Tour, Chris Froome (SKY), who conserved yellow from day eight in the race; the man from Boyacá will complete his third Paris podium appearance in as many finishes (2013, 2015, 2016), and becomes the second GC top-three finisher for the Movistar Team after Alejandro Valverde’s 3rd place in the Giro d’Italia.


The peloton will be transferred tomorrow to the outskirts of Paris for the final stage, a 113km route between Chantilly and the French capital for the traditional eight laps around the Champs. Barring any misfortune, the squad directed by Chente and Arrieta will be the winners of the team GC for the fourth time in their history, after 1991, 1999 (Banesto) and last year’s success.


Ion Izagirre said: 


“It was an amazing day. A victory in the Tour de France, in the Alps, is something every cyclist could dream of.  It was a difficult breakaway, with many talented riders, but our legs responded well, and we could crown it in the best of possible ways. It was clear to me that both Pantano and Nibali were good descenders, but when you’ve struggled so much through the stage you might lack that bit of self-conviction. That’s why it was clearly set on my mind, ever since the top of the Joux Plane climb, that I had to start the ‘real’ descent at the front to reach the finish solo with at least a few meters. I was focused on keeping the right line and all strength into that downhill, giving 100%; it all went well and we’re super happy about this win. At the finish, I could only think about all the efforts and suffering leading up to this victory - they all were truly worth.


“There were many quality riders in our breakaway group. So we're very happy to finish ahead of them and win the stage. Beating Nibali in a downhill is something that counts in a career but Pantano also descents very well. I'm super happy.


“I was not scared, I took my courage in both hands from the first corner. If you're afraid it's easier to crash. I knew I had to ride hard to the bottom because Nibali would beat me in the sprint.


”The team was behind me today. I left the work to Kreuziger who had more interest to do it but when I saw Nibali attack, it became important to react.


“I wanted to do the best descending that I could. I tried to go full gas and I managed to get it right. Today went really well. The victory is very good for Movistar today, and finally we have something to celebrate at this Tour de France. We came to the Tour with a dream to win the yellow jersey, but a stage victory and a podium in Paris - that’s still good.


“At the end, it was a good Tour de France for Movistar Team; we all came here with our sights set on the #SueñoAmarillo, but Froome proved to be stronger than the rest of the field. I think that completing this race with a stage win, the team GC and Nairo’s podium place in Paris are phenomenal results. This win goes to Gorka, the whole team, my girlfriend and my little baby, expected to be born in October.”


“The Olympics is my next goal as it is a big event for all sports. My good results give me confidence and I will try to do the best possible time tral and road race. With, Purito and Valverde, I am convinced that we will have a very strong team.


“One-week races suit me better than grand tours. A Grand Tour is more complicated, it requires a lot of sacrifices. Frankly, I feel better in one-week races.”


Nairo Quintana: I will have a lot of battles with Froome in the future

Nairo Quintana said:


“We can walk away from this Tour de France knowing that we tried our hardest. I think it’s been a positive Tour in the end. We were more ambitious when we arrived here, but a podium in the Tour de France is still a good achievement, so I’m happy for that.


“I had some allergies, the rain wasn’t great, but I’m feeling a bit better today. I wanted to say thank you to all the Colombian people, my father and mother, who have given their support for me.


"I have to congratulate Froome. The truth is that he's a great rival – strong rival whom I've had to fight against quite a lot. In the coming years it will definitely continue that way. Sometimes he'll win, sometimes I'll win – as we've seen this year in the various races we've done together.


"In the end, the assessment is positive. Obviously we came here with a much bigger and more ambitious goal, but we have many years to keep trying. In any case, a podium in the Tour de France – this is the Tour, the biggest thing in cycling – I'm very happy to finish in this position.


"The truth is that I'm very happy. Three Tours, three podiums. I'm finishing this one with great happiness despite the difficulties I've had. And today practically closing the Tour with a stage victory for my teammate and friend… we've fought so much together and he has supported me so well.


"Going to Paris as a team is very special, and it's not often you get the chance to stand on the podium in Paris. It's a great reward for all my teammates who fought every day – that has been reflected at the end of this Tour and we can go away very happy.


“Chris Froome was too strong. It's the third time I lose against him but I'm still happy with our team showing on this Tour and the whole of the season. We showed we were one of the best teams in the world. Now it's time for Paris and celebrations."


Jarlinson Pantano: I had the victory I my legs

Having finished 2nd for the second time in the 2016 Tour de France, Jarlinson Pantano gave IAM Cycling its 4th podium and its 11th time in the top-10. 


“I made a mistake in the first corner of the descent off the Col de Joux Plane and it proved costly enough to lose the stage,” he said.


“I gave everything on the ascent of the Joux-Plane. I started the descent behind Nibali, but he left a gap.  I went on his right in order to overtake him, but I had to unclip because I went too hot into the first corner.  In spite of my best efforts, I never was able to get back up front.


“Ion [Izagirre] took me by surprise in the downhill. He went very fast. He was at the limit and I didn't manage to catch him. I'm happy for him because he's a great rider and he always helped me a lot.


“This was a very difficult stage because of the rain and the downhills. There were very dangerous. I'm happy with the second place. You can't always win. It's been a good last week for me. It gives me confidence and motivation for the future.


“This is a good 2nd place, but I am convinced I had the victory in my legs. I am satisfied with my Tour, and I am very grateful to the entire team.  Without them, I would never have been able to get the stage win and these podium places.”


Jarlinson Pantano will wear the red bib number of the combative over the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-Elysées. For the second time in the Tour de France, the jury awarded the prize to Pantano at the end of the 20th stage.


Manager Rik Verbrugghe said:


“Once again, IAM Cycling put on a very aggressive show at the Tour de France. Jarlinson Pantano managed to carry his escape to the finish.  He made a remarkable crossing of the Alps. My only regret is that he did not take the lead at the beginning of the technical descent of the Joux-Plane. Wanting to avoid Nibali, he went into the grass, and that was enough to give Izaguirre the room to go it alone.”


8 IAM Cycling riders who will finish in Paris on the final stage of the Tour de France, since only Mathias Frank was forced to head home prematurely due to digestive problems.


Vincenzo Nibali: Maybe I was afraid after yesterday’s crash

"In the previous sections in the wet I had a little fear,” Vincenzo Nibali told Spaziociclismo. “Maybe the crash yesterday blocked me, I was not ready to take risks. I was a bloc. The others descended better. I'm sorry not to have won, especially for what he went through with Fabio, maybe I could have raise the morale. "


"Everything had gone as planned, but it was not easy. We all rode very fast with Sagan and we were all tired.


“I’ve tried with all my energies but in the final descent Izaguirre was better than me. I wanted to win a stage and I thought I could also have been useful for the my Team in the breakaway.I did good in the climb but then in the final wet descent to Morzine I’ve found one rider better than me.


"I felt good in the last few days, with better legs. It is a good response, but it was not easy to do the Tour after the Giro and the first part of the season. Now we will do the Olympics and see how it goes.


Fabio Aru: We have to find out what happened

Fabio Aru suffered a bad day and he lost some minutes in the GC after three weeks race always at the top level: 


“I’ve suffered a bad day, I cannot say why but on the last climb to Col de Joux Plane I couldn’t follow the group of the Yellow Jersey," explained Aru at the hotel after the stage. "Together with my staff we will analyze what happened to me today, for sure I didn't havethe legs that I had yesterday and two days ago in the ITT.”


Julian Alaphilippe: I am proud of my first Tour de France

One of the most aggressive riders of the 103rd Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe went again in the breakaway, this time in a huge group which counted 37 riders, including teammate and fellow Grande Boucle debutant Petr Vakoč. That move witnessed a slow birth, but once it finally took off, it became clear for everybody that it will go all the way to the finish line in Morzine, especially as the grim weather looming on the horizon made the peloton hold back and take a more conservative approach.


The tough slopes of the first-category Col de la Ramaz, the third ascent of the day, fragmented the leading group, only a handful of riders going over the top in the lead. On the fast descent, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) powered away, but was quickly joined by Alaphilippe, and the two of them forged a gap of two minutes on the chasers by the time they hit the bottom of the ruthless Col de Joux Plane (11.6 km, 8.5%).

Less than six kilometers from the top of the ascent, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked and went in pursuit of the leading duo, who was 1:20 clear. Alaphilippe put in two accelerations in an attempt to distance his Colombian companion, but he came back each time, before being joined by Nibali and Ion Izagirre (Movistar), another one of the day-long escapees. The three surged clear from Alaphilippe and built a significant advantage before the start of the descent, where the Spaniard pulled away and soloed to the win in Morzine, ahead of Pantano and Nibali.


Although it wasn't easy and he suffered a great deal, Alaphilippe gritted his teeth and left everything on the road in order to arrive at the finish and notch up another top 10, his fourth in the race, a remarkable achievement for a Grand Tour debutant, who turned 24 just a few weeks ago.


Completely empty and in pain after one of the toughest days he's ever experienced on the bike, Julian Alaphilippe found plenty of reasons to be happy for his fourth place on the last mountain stage of the Tour de France:


"Today it was the final opportunity to do something nice and that's why I decided to jump in the break. On the Ramaz downhill, I attacked and went with Pantano, another good descender. We worked well together and on Joux Plane I attacked to test the water. On the 10% slopes, I suffered and couldn't keep up anymore, but I am satisfied with my day at the front and with the result I got.


"It hurt but I'm glad I could be in front today. It was important because it was the last opportunity and even though I felt tired in recent days, I wanted to give everything today, everything I had left. I'm glad I did that day in front but I am disappointed not to have won even if I could not do better.


“On the climb when Alexis Gougeard attacked, the favorites looked at each other. After the hard work of Sagan for Kreuziger, everyone looked a bit around and it suited me. I said that I would ride if the finish was at the top without thinking about the descent. I used my head because the legs were hurting. In the end, O didn’t miss much.


“I'm already very happy to finish the Tour, I can ask for too much. I continue my learning curve. I'm exhausted but very proud and very happy to have finished my first Tour de France. I look forward to the Champs Elysees. I think this is a great moment in a career. I have had it on my mind since I knew I would be at the Tour. "


Dan Martin: This gives me a lot of confidence for 2017

"Take it safe and don't risk anything" – this looked to be the main group's motto, and looking in hindsight, it probably was the best choice, as the dangerous Col de Joux Plane descent could have led to a brutal end of the GC ambitions and hard work of the past three weeks. The favourites rolled over the line around four minutes later, with Dan Martin finishing 9th on the stage, thus securing his position in the overall standings.


Ninth in the general classification, just six seconds off seventh place, Martin didn't have any regrets and saw the glass half-full at the end of the stage, as his ride in this year's Tour is more of a cornerstone on which he can continue to build on and improve for the next years:


"The weather made the stage different; it was just about surviving out there. Julien Vermote and Tony Martin did a great job for me and I want to thank them for their help. I tried to stay as warm as possible and even though I didn't feel as good as yesterday, I managed to stay with the yellow jersey group and get safely to the finish.


“Looking on the GC, I am just six seconds off seventh place, but what really counts is that I am lying around 2:30 off the podium, something I would have never imagined last year. This gives me a lot of confidence for 2017."


Rui Costa: I paid for yesterday’s effort

Rui Costa tried hard once again to achieve a victory in the Tour de France. After having been in the main breakaway in the 19th stage, the Portuguese rider from LAMPRE-MERIDA joined the break again. In the end he finished fifth.


It was an accomplished mission for Louis Meintjes who's 8th in the general classification at 6'58".The South African climber has written history, being the first African rider ever to complete the Tour de France in the top 10. Today he reached the finish in the yellow jersey group (14th at 4.14).


”I cannot say I'm happy but I'm also not sad,” he wrote in his diary. “Let's say that I can live with this 5th place. In the final part I missed strength and I could not do better. I paid the bill for the valiant effort yesterday so to be in front with the best has been very good.

”It was another day of fighting, the last mountain stage. That's what we're here for, to honor the colors of our teams and the flag of our countries. I'm in good conscience because I tried and I think I did the best I could for the colors of Portugal and Lampre-Merida.


”Tomorrow, we end the race with another win for Chris Froome. He was certainly the strongest. We will also have our teammate Meitjes in 8th place overall. I congratulate him for the brave effort.

Excellent show by Sagan, Majka and Kreuziger in the Alps

The penultimate day of the Tour de France, with only the traditional procession into Paris to come after, meant that this was the last chance for teams to throw their hat in the ring for stage or GC glory. With the Green and Polka Dot Jerseys already claimed by the team, it was Roman Kreuziger’s turn to go for glory, and after riding hard in the break all day, with strong support from Peter Sagan, the Czech national road champion cracked the top ten of the GC after pushing hard throughout the Tour’s three weeks. The team will wear the Maillot Vert and Maillot à Pois into Paris tomorrow.


The day started with an excruciatingly-fast pace, and while the breaks wanted to go, the ones that did exploded shortly after. With such aggressive riding, it was hard to get a break to stick, but after 15km a large group made the escape. In this group, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was looking for some extra points for the Maillot Vert contest, while he was joined by the Czech national road champion, Roman Kreuziger, who had his eye on pulling some time back in the GC.


Like yesterday, the roads were soaked and the rain was falling, making riding treacherous. With so many riders having hit the deck on stage 19, it was essential that riders stayed upright and the pace was noticeably slower. In the bunch, having won the Maillot à Pois on yesterday’s stage, Rafal Majka was sitting at the back of the peloton, avoiding trouble and making sure there were no upsets in the road ahead. This was also a well-deserved rest for the Polish rider, who had attacked on each of the three previous road stages.


Attacking on the descent of the Col de la Colombière, Kreuziger and Sagan were part of a group of eight who split away from the main breakaway group, quickly forming an advantage of more than six minutes on the peloton. While Sagan dropped away shortly after, the UCI World Champion had worked hard to support Kreuziger and get him in position for the latter part of the stage.

Attacking riding has been a theme of Tinkoff’s Tour de France, and during the stage, Sagan was awarded the most aggressive rider of this year’s race.


“I’m happy to have taken the most aggressive rider. I’m happy we finished this very hard week and am looking forward to tomorrow. I was expecting to win the most aggressive prize last year, but didn’t, so to win it this year I’m very happy.”


The long final climb over and done with, it was just the descent into Morzine to go. In spite of having lost some time on the climb, Kreuziger had the downhill section to draw back an advantage on the chasing peloton. Soaked to the skin, Kreuziger crossed the line in sixth spot. After a nervous wait, it was confirmed that his hard ride and strong effort had helped him crack the top ten of the GC.

Crossing the line in 15th spot having stayed safe today, Rafal Majka was confirmed as the King of the Mountains.


“We’re happy and I’m pleased to have finished the day safely – I stayed with the GC riders and stayed safe in the finish. I didn’t want to risk it on the descent. The team was all the time in the front today – all the time in the breakaway. We had a lot of time in the breakaways this year – Peter especially is the most aggressive rider and he deserves that accolade.”


Continuing, the Polish national road champion was quick to praise the team’s efforts, and thanked Oleg Tinkov for his strong support.


“It’s really important for me and my teammates to have won the two jerseys. Oleg is leaving the sport so we wanted to give him something in this Tour to say thank you – three stages and two jerseys. We did it for Oleg after his five years of sponsorship of the team. It’s great because Roman took a top ten in the GC and we have two jerseys going into Paris. It’s been a great Tour de France – at the start we had bad luck, but now it’s much better and we’re really happy. We had bad luck with Alberto but congratulations to Chris Froome for the yellow. I love the race and am really pleased to have my second jersey – I’ll be celebrating tomorrow.


“I'm very cold, very tired but very happy as well. With three stage victories and two distinctive jerseys, we have reversed the bad luck we endured at the beginning. I want to congratulate Chris Froome for his victory but we're also happy with our two jerseys.”


Having taken three stage wins and the Maillot Vert, Sagan was pleased to have performed so well throughout the race.


“With these wins it feels like 2012 when I won three stages and the green jersey. I’m very happy for myself and the team, and to have finished this very hard week. It’s important to fight hard – we’re the top team in the world and we had to make sure we kept getting those results. We made it up pretty well for the loss of Alberto Contador but that's normal because we're among the best teams in the world. I'm happy to finished this last week of mountains and I'm looking forward to tomorrow in Paris.”


Strong Wilco Kelderman crashes out of top 5 in the ALps

Wilco Kelderman was in front of the peloton the whole day during the final mountain stage of the Tour de France. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider was among the best climbers during the final climb to Joux Plane, but was dropped by stage winner Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) in the end. Kelderman crashed afterwards, in the final descent and finished seventh.

“Wilco Kelderman escaped immediately in the first kilometre of the stage,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “They broke away with a big group of 36 riders. Bert-Jan Lindeman was part of that group as well, but he was dropped afterwards. Thirty riders were able to stay in front, eventually with George Bennett among them. When the breakaway fell apart, George set the pace on the Col de la Ramax to bring Wilco back in the race. That succeeded.”

On the Col de Joux Plane, a man-against-man fight arose between the best climbers of the breakaway. 

“Wilco had to let Izaguirre go and crossed the top of the mountain in fourth position,” Zeeman continued. “The descent was very technical and slippery because of the rain. He was back at 15 seconds on the descent, but missed a turn with one kilometre to go.”

“Just before the final kilometre, a sharp turn appeared suddenly,” Kelderman added. “My wheel slipped away on a white stripe and I rode into the fences at 60 kilometres an hour. 

“I fell on my back and it hurt so much that I wasn’t able to push hard anymore. I’m only suffering some scrapes and bruises fortunately, so I don’t have too much damage. 

“I gave everything and fought for what I was capable of. When I crashed, I was in fifth position and that would have been the best possible place today.

"It's wait-and-see how I feel tomorrow, but I will start. I was still motivated in the last few days but it did not work at all. To join an escape is just very difficult. If it works out like today, you just give everything. I have fought for what I could.”

According to Zeeman, Kelderman delivered a beautiful stage.


“He faced a difficult Tour de France, but he was competing to win the stage today. He should be proud of that. Wilco deserves a compliment for his combativeness. He proved to be resilient.”


Joaquim Rodriguez: This is how I wanted to say goodbye to the Tour

To show he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level, Team KATUSHA’s leader Joaquim Rodriguez took 8th on the stage and moved himself into seventh on his final Tour de France. It was the last day in the Alps for the 2016 Tour de France and a final time in the high mountains for as 'Purito'  brings his career to an end later this season.


”This was a great result for the team today. We were fighting for this place from the beginning. We believed all the time this was possible and today was the last chance. Everyone is tired. So we had Zakarin in the front where we could play for the stage with him if we needed to, but we also had the plan that if Joaquim was feeling good he could try to attack on the last climb and then he would have Ilnur in the front to pull for him. It worked perfectly. He moved into seventh place so everybody is happy and I think Joaquim deserved this place. It’s his last Tour de France so for sure the memory of this last climb will stay in his mind,” said team director José Azevedo.


”This is great. This is how I wanted to say goodbye to the Tour de France, by suffering and fighting. I am so happy! Yesterday 11th and now 7th. It looks like more than we expected before the stage but in the end this is the position I had in mind before the Tour. In the end KATUSHA did a good Tour de France. We showed we are a team and Ilnur is the future. If Alexander Kristoff could win tomorrow, that would be the cherry on the pie,” said team leader Joaquim Rodriguez.


Rodriguez came in at 3:24 for 8th place. He moved from 11th into seventh place with a time of 6:58, on the same time as Louis Meintjes of Lampre - Merida.


“Today I planned to go in the break because we had a plan to support Purito on the last climb. I was able to go away in a big group. It was a hard race under the rain and on each downhill it was very, very cold. With 5 or 6 km to the top of the last climb I got information from the car that Rodriguez had attacked and I waited for him. In this 5 km I did my best, gave my all to pull for Joaquim. After we crossed the top Purito continued to hold the high pace while I started to descend without any risk, but it was unbelievably cold. I am very happy for Purito and his 7th place in GC. He is a great rider. He did a strong race and proved he is really good in the third week. I was happy to give my 100% for him,” said Ilnur Zakarin.


“At the beginning we were looking at the gap of 7 minutes and with Ilnur in the front we wanted to keep him there in case the peloton did not react, but then later he was there for Rodriguez. Ilnur makes me feel very proud as a director – it is amazing the work he can do. He can win and then when necessary he can work 100% for the team. We are so happy for him. After his crash in the Giro and his operation with 10 days off the bike; then to see the big effort he made to come into the Tour in OK shape, and to then see that every week he was improving. On the last week he did important work and of course won his first Tour stage,” said director Azevedo.


Only one stage remains to race and it is the traditional ride into Paris on Sunday for stage 21. At 113 km the stage is mostly ceremonial until it hits the famous Champ-Élysées and then it’s full on racing to the finish line for the last sprint of the 103rd Tour de France.


”We still have ambitions to win tomorrow on the Champ-Élysées. The Tour is not yet finished for us. Tomorrow is also an important day. All the stages are important but when you win in Paris it is something big. Alexander Kristoff has been second twice and third. I hope on his next try he will be first, ” concluded team director José Azevedo.


Romain Bardet: It is a defining moment in my career

“For me it is unbelievable,” Romain Bardet said. “That's a lot of emotions, I have difficulty realizing it. I really took the time to savor it last night with friends and staff. Today we recovered well to keep second place and finally I managed the day well. When crossing the line, there were a lot of emotions because it is an outstanding performance and we can really be proud of having managed it in such conditions.


”It's a slow evolution. It is the correction of small factors that hampered my performance. I managed to be 100% in the second and third weeks and that's only because I did not use too much energy in the first week. I made the tactical choice not to risk my skin every day.


”At the Dauphine [where he was second behind Froome], I could have won the race by doing it differently in the stage on Saturday. There was regret in the end. At this Tour de France, second place is the best result I could hope for. I did my best and I have no regrets today. I have had no crashes, no puncture at the wrong time. The circumstances were favorable for me and for the rest it allowed me to be 100% in the important moments. The Dauphiné was really the foundation for my success because I've learned from my mistakes.


”I arrived at the Tour with more confidence. The Dauphine brought me the serenity because I saw that I was well prepared. I managed to get less tired ay the Tour because I had less pressure. I really enjoyed it, I really felt comfortable with the favorites. From there, it was necessary to take risks like we did yesterday and take back time when needed. In the end, we had success. We took advantage of favorable circumstances to really go for the podium together and it will remain a defining moment in my career.


”The best moment was when Micka '(Mickael Chérel) told me that the race was to be decided in Domancy, 25 kilometers from the finish. It gave me energy and we were just gone. It was a great time. Yet at that moment, I was not thinking about the stage win but just about gaining time.


”Like you, I am also an observer and I have expectations for French cycling. I think this year there have been good things with Thibaut Pinot, with Arnaud Démare in Milan-San Remo. I think the best is to come. I am convinced that we are still far from what we can do. We still have prospects, but the important thing is that the process has started. Everyone must takes advantage of this positive momentum.


“I managed to defend my position overall. It was really well managed. We never panicked, it is a great collective pride of having achieved such a result. It is more than a childhood dream. Even in my wildest plans, I could not have imagined to finish between Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, the first two of the Tour de France in two editions. This is absolutely beyond my expectations. We must enjoy it. 


”I am very happy with the consistency in this Tour de France. I have not had a failure during three weeks. In four Tours de France, I haveprogressed. I think we can be proud of what we did.

”Ag2r is my family. I started the adventure with them at the training center in 2010. The stury continyes we follow our career plan, one that Vincent Lavenu and the team made for me. I have many chances to evolve in this family environment that allows me to climb the steps one by one. It is a consecration and the result of many people who work in the shadows.


“Nothing is impossible. Everything is open. I assure you that there is still a generation of Frenchmen who are at least as talented as me. 


”I am very touched by all the encouragement. On the climbs, when I see the eyes of all the spectators, I see the emotion in their eyes. This sport gives pleasure to people. We're lucky to have a unifying sport, this jubilation on the roads in July is a chance to enjoy ourselves. It boosts us and it helps the French riders like me, it motivates us.


“Today the goal was just to defend second place. There was the precedent of the Dauphine. We were already on the podium and had the objective to save 3rd place. Finally, I could win a spot. Today was more complicated as I was 4 minutes behind Chris Froome. At the bottom of Joux-Plane, it was the goal to save the second place because I was not going to gain 4 minutes in 5 kilometers. I was ready to fight.


”A few weeks ago, we could not imagine such a result, especially given all the strong riders in Saint-Lô-out,” sports director Julien Jurdie said. “Congratulations to all of his teammates who were able to raise the level in the third week. The staff did a big job, it is an individual sport that is done in groups and everyone worked together to get. I'm proud of guiding these warriors alongside Stéphane Goubert and Vincent Lavenu who allowed me to realize this childhood dream.”


Jan Bakelants: It is strange that I have not had a single good day in the Tour

"I have done my job for the team and that has paid off. This is a success for us, but what concerns me, we cannot deny that it was not good,” Jan Bakelants told Sporza. “Sometimes it was even bad. That was not fun and maybe I'm going to undergo some checks. The chances are fairly high that there is something wrong. The crash had its consequences, but it is strange that I have not had a single good day during three weeks. It’s not like it will be the last for me but this time I have seen the dark side of the Tour.


"We were very good and it feels good that we can go home with a second place in the Tour. It has not been an easy year for our team. It change after the Dauphiné. We were collectively strong, but we did not expect to be second in the Tour.


"I think that I'm going home on Sunday but I must first be with the team. We have a rider who finishes second, so I would also like to participate in the festivities. I have also worked hard for that during three weeks. I will discuss with my girlfriend Daphne whether I can stay away one day longer [Bakelants became a father during the Tour].”


Adam Yates: I will come back to go for the yellow jersey

Adam Yates is set to become the first Briton to wear the White Jersey of the Tour de France and take it all the way to Paris after another strong performance forORICA-BikeExchange on stage 20 saw the 23-year old seal 4th place overall.


Having all but secured his victory in the best young rider category of the Tour de France Yates fought all the way to the line for 13th place and an incredible 4th on the overall general classification that will give the Australian team its best overall result at the Tour.


The second wet and stormy mountain stage in succession saw a large breakaway form on the first climb before Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) made the winning move to take the stage victory after a treacherous descent to the finish in Morzine.


“Yesterday wasn’t my best day and we ended up just missing out on the podium, but of course I’m super happy,” said Yates at the stage finish. “Barring any bad luck on tomorrows last stage to Paris then these should be the final results and I’m very satisfied with what we’ve achieved.


“This is only my second Tour de France and I am only 23-years old so I will definitely be back and I hope to challenge for the podium, if not more in the future.


“I am glad it’s over, it has been a long, tiring three weeks and the team have been fantastic day in day out.


“I was never meant to be focused over three weeks of racing. Yesterday I had my only real bad day and I saved myself pretty well. I maintained the white jersey and I'm super happy with that. The podium would have been nice but this is the Tour de France. It's only my second attempt. I'm happy with my performance and the team is too.


“I’m super happy with how I’ve gone. After my bad day yesterday, I wasn’t sure how the legs would respond but I recovered well, and here we are. I’ve got the white jersey and fourth place overall. Obviously, I didn’t get the podium but it’s only my second Tour de France, and I hope that I’ll be back and I can go one step further.”


“We came here not really riding for the GC, and it kind of just happened. I wouldn’t say we were disappointed; it’s just one of them things and all of the guys ahead of me have ridden Grand Tours before they’ve all ridden the GC before, especially at the Tour de France. The future is ahead of me, and I’m sure I’ll be back fighting for that podium.


“Other than my bad day yesterday I had a super Tour. I recovered well after yesterday. Obviously, I didn’t attack or anything today, but I think that everybody was on the limit, and nobody wanted to attack today. I’m pretty satisfied with holding on and finishing where we started.


“It was pretty dangerous, you risk it, but you might not even make the time up. I had the legs to stay there, I’m fourth and the white jersey, I’m pretty happy with that.


“Hopefully, in the future, I can challenge for the yellow jersey. I’ll try my best. It’s hard to say; you never know what will happen in the future. I’m going to continue working hard and doing everything possible to improve and hopefully, it’s enough for the yellow jersey, but we’ll see.


“Every day I’m learning, it’s more experience than learning. I learned to not lose concentration when you are tired. I’ve ridden Grand Tours, but this is the first won for GC. Just coping with the pressure, even if I had some bad days, I managed it quite well.


“I’m fourth. For a lot of people it’s a dream to ride the Tour de France, but for me to come top 10 or five, I’m super happy. I learned a lot that will help me in the future. To help me go one step further. I learned some lesson and gained some experience.


“I need to put work on my time trialling, riding on the flats, a bit of everything. It’s hard to say [if I can win the race], anything can happen. I’ll keep working hard and training hard.


“I see that ‘Froomey’ is a big step ahead, but most of the other guys are close. So it’s just about having the legs and looking for the ways to gain time on your rivals.”

Sport director Matt White described how the difficult conditions contributed to the cagey racing witnessed on stage 20.


“Today was always going to be a stressful day,” said White. “There was so much at stake for most of the top ten and with so much on the line its natural to be reluctant to take the risk, especially in those conditions.


“When you take race leader Chris Froome out of the equation, this is probably one of the closest general classifications in modern Tour de France history and you could see from today’s finale how closely everyone marked each other with nobody wanting to lose any ground.


“It was a very tough stage and the weather made it even harder, the slippery road surface made the favourites very cautious and unfortunately that meant the opportunity to try and gain back some time never arose for us."


Richie Porte: It’s bittersweet to have thrown away time

Richie Porte has all but wrapped up fifth place at the Tour de France, his best result to date, after the final day in the mountains on stage 20.


With only 1’06” separating second and fifth place on the General Classification going into the stage, a showdown on the four climbs was expected. Torrential rain made for difficult conditions and neutralized any attacks from the General Classification contenders.


Porte crossed the line in Morzine with the yellow jersey group to secure fifth place, capping off a successful first Tour de France with BMC Racing Team.


Richie Porte said:


“It’s a great result but it’s a bit bittersweet to just throw away time like I have done on a few days. I think it leaves me a little more motivated for next year so I look forward to having another go at it.


”I move on and now I’ve got the Olympics to look forward to so hopefully I’ll take some good form out of this race and have a good go there.


“Coming down off those descents before the Joux Plane, everyone was just frozen solid. The Joux Plane is not an easy climb and at the pace they set it was quite hard to do anything from it. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) set a place that was basically impossible to attack off.


”It is just a nice day to get done. Every descent we did today was just dangerous and slippery so I don’t think anyone wanted to risk anything, and I think Team Sky had it under control anyhow.


“It does give me confidence for next year. A few times there I had a bit of bad luck but it’s exciting for next year. I’ll hopefully come back and give it another crack and see what I can do.”


Sports director Yvon Ledanois added:


“It’s really unfortunate to have lost 1’45” on stage 2 due to Richie’s mechanical. If you look at the final top ten you see what a difference a time loss like that might have made to Richie’s overall place. Richie probably would have had the podium in Paris, but that’s cycling.


“Richie was super strong the whole race. He showed what he can do and fifth place is a great result for him in his first attempt as a team leader. This result is a great motivator for next year. We know we have a strong leader with Richie and I’m really proud of him and the way the team worked around him. He had some bad luck with the mechanical problem on stage 2, the disaster on Mont Ventoux and the crash yesterday, so finally fifth place is a really good result.”


Chris Froome describes the highs and lows and outlines future plans

Chris Froome crossed the line safely after a tricky final mountain stage to all but wrap up a third Tour de France victory.


Froome was flanked by his Team Sky teammates across the entire 146.5-kilometre mountain test, ticking off four categorised climbs and descents to set up a triumphant run into Paris in Sunday.


The yellow jersey began the day patched up after his crash on Friday but looked comfortable in the Alps, finishing off the day with the soaking wet and technical descent off the Col de Joux Plane. Safe passage now sets up Team Sky for an incredible fourth Tour de France victory.


"It's a huge relief to cross that finish line," said Froome after the stage. "The last 24 hours have been pretty chaotic but my teammates helped me so much to keep the yellow jersey on my shoulders. It's an amazing feeling.

"I'm pretty sore, all my knee and my back, but my legs were better today than yesterday after the crash. I had that four minutes gap to play with. It gave me a breathing space. I just had to stay in front. It could be like the first one again.


"It was a tough day out there, rain on and off, tricky descents and a tricky finish there, so it was such a good feeling crossing that final finish line.


"I feel so privileged to be in this position where I've always had teammates around me in the race. Although we haven't won the team competition, we've had by far the strongest team in this here and I'm incredibly grateful for that.


”I had a lot of stress during the race and the emotion was at through the line. To do it with my teammates was a great relief. We have been together for three weeks with very difficult times.


“I would say it's been a roller coaster. There were incredible times, echelons, the descent of Peyresourde, sprinting with Sagan ... You cannot write the script for such moments. And then, of course, the most difficult moments like my crash yesterday.


”I tried everything in this Tour. I knew the descent [from Pyresourde] and I thought that maybe ten, twelve, fifteen seconds could be the difference between winning or losing the Tour. I did it on instinct, I tried but I had never thought of winning a stage like that. This was the best moment of my tour, I was like a kid. That's cycling.


”In Montpellier my teammates had protected me all day and when I saw Sagan go, I thought it was necessary to follow and maybe together we could make a difference. Then I sprinted but I knew it was impossible to beat Sagan.


“On Ventoux, I have not had time to brake. My bike was broken and over the radio, I realized that the car was far behind. There was one kilometer and I thought I had to run. I could do 200 or 300 meters like that and maybe have the chance to see the car coming. Where it happened, there were a lot of people, it was very difficult.


"I don't think the jury's decision [on the Ventoux stage] should have been made according to what kind of margins someone is leading by, that's a bit crazy. The jury took the decision because the race was stopped by external factors, and it was a fair decision that applied to all riders involved. Every race and every scenario is different but that's why the jury is there, to make those decisions.


”After yesterday’s crash I immediately thought ‘we must change the bike and start as soon as possible.' I did not have time to doubt. I saw Geraint Thomas give me his bike and the race could continue. When I hit the ground, I had a lot of pain. I had a chance to take the bike of Geraint, it was not easy but I was glad to have it.


“Last night I was emotionally exhausted and yet I slept very well. The legs were good today. The Tour gave different emotions. Everyone told me for several days that it was won but I knew that so much could still happen. If my team had not been there, I could have lost two minutes. It could have been a very different scenario.


”Of course, I thought of the crash during the stage. There was not much to gain by going faster in the descents. It was good for me to have a 4-minute lead. Although the rivals were taking all the risks, I had a big advantage. I had to stay in one piece and reach the finish. Joux-Plane is a dangerous descent, narrow, winding, difficult with this weather but nobody wanted to take any risks. There were a lot of accidents on Friday and everyone knew it.


”I'm more accustomed to yellow and the pressure that goes with being a leader and defending the title. The yellow jersey was less difficult to wear but every year it's a different challenge. I have worked in this direction, it was not new to me.


”By far it was the best team I have had in the Tour de France. This is due to several reasons. The plans for the Giro have not gone well and we could take the riders from the Giro and bring them to the Tour. Having the best climbers in the Tour was imperative because we knew was had to win the race on the climbs. We had some very competitive teams in the past. We have not won the teams classification but to have four riders finish in the top 20 despite the fact that they have fought for one cause shows everything


"It was unfortunate that Alberto Contador crashed on stage 1 and he wasn't part of this battle this year. It's important that we have a big battle but even though I've come here with a four-minute advantage, it feels like every day has been a new challenge, a new fight. I don't feel as if it's been any easier in that regard.


"I have seen Nairo obviously stronger in the past. At the Tours I won in 2013 and 2015, he pushed me right until the end. I feel like this year, he wasn't quite at his best for whatever reason. But I've no doubt he'll be back here with the same hunger to fight for victory next year.


“Bardet has progressed, I saw him in the Criterium du Dauphine. It was really hard these days and he proved that he can be very good for three weeks. It is great for cycling to have a French rider on the podium and I imagine he will be even more motivated next year.


“It is a feeling of immense joy. Every day it was very difficult for three weeks. It's incredible. I feel privileged to be in this position, to have team members of such quality throughout the race.


”For now, I'm still focused on Tour. It's such a special race. It would be my dream to keep coming back to the Tour de France for the next five or six years if I can, to be on the start line and give myself the best shot of fighting for victory again. I've now won it three times and I can't say the novelty is wearing off. It's such an incredible feeling and amazing event. It's the biggest honour there is in our sport and I hope I can be back again next year.


”I will come back in 2017 to win it. The Giro and the Vuelta are possibilities. I'll probably compete in the Vuelta this year but it is very difficult to do the Giro and the Tour.


"I think for quite a lot of reasons, I've put that [the criticism he faced last year] to rest now. I've done a lot in terms of offering up my physiological data and trying to be open to people as much as I can while protecting a competitive advantage at the same time. Things have been put into perspective for us, by the attacks in Nice and what's been happening. But credit to the French public, the race continued, and it's a strong sign that life goes on. The atmosphere on the race was great. The French public makes this great race.


” If you look at the battle for the podium it was tight. There are one or two minutes from the second to sixth place. I hope that the powermeters are not prohibited, they are part of my way of working. I do not use it it much in the race, it does not change much but it allows me to respond if I am under atack. There are also discussions about the number of riders per team and it is an interesting approach for the future. It  is up to the UCI to decide


“I think the course for the time trial in Rio suits me. It will be 60 kilometers, it will be very hard. I've already won the bronze medal in London and it would be amazing to challenge for a medal again. I have thought about it for 6 months. I have worked on my TT with this goal in mind.


“Now I will rest. Next Sunday, I will do RideLondon Classic, a one-day race on Sunday before leaving for Rio with the British team. I will be in Rio a week before the race to prepare well.”


Team Sky controlled almost the entire Alpine test, with Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard setting the early pace, while Sergio Henao pushed on up the road to monitor a big-name breakaway.


Finishing alongside Wout Poels, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve and Henao, Froome heads into the French capital with a lead of four minutes and five seconds over Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).


"It was OK. We stayed calm and didn’t push it too much. We had a good advantage this morning, so, yeah, it was OK,” Thomas told Eurosport.


"I rode the climb, and then we told Fromey to sit behind me [on the descent]. We had three guys behind him in case anything happened. I just went down nice and steady. It couldn’t have gone any better."


"The crash maybe just made him a bit more cautious, but he’s a real strong guy and I don’t think it affected him too much.


“I think the strength in depth has been massive in the team. We’ve got a lot of good climbers here, probably the most we’ve had than any of the Tours. It’s the first time we’ve still got nine riders in the race so it’s been a great three weeks. The closer you get to the finish the more confident everyone gets.”

Wout Poels: Maybe I can get my own chance in the future

"It was easier than expected. The only attacks came from Bauke Mollema and Joaquim Rodriguez, but they were far behind Chris. So that was perfect,” Wout Poels told NOS.


"I just did my job just like the others. Chris was still the one who had to finish it off. I only had a small part in his victory."


"In the future, the personal opportunities may come, maybe in the Giro or the Vuelta or in the Tour as second man behind Froome.


“I like to ride against Chris [like he will do in Rio]. I became a rider to go for results and after my victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège I have a lot of confidence that I can go for a medal in Rio.”


Thomas De Gendt: It's okay that Sagan gets the combativity prize

Thomas De Gendt was able to take a lot of KOM points and he finishes second in the mountains classification. The Belgian is also second in the classification of the most combative riders.


"I can live with that. I would have preferred to win that prize but Sagan is a good rider,” he told Sporza.


"I mainly wanted to secure my second place in the mountains classification and go for a second stage win. However, because it was raining, my descent was less good. Still, I had good legs because it went well on the climbs. I was a minute behind but I still came back one time and just rode awat. That last climb was too much and it was too steep.


"I had very good legs today, but also had bad luck that it rained hard in the end. I lost a lot of time on my breakaway companions.


Emanuel Buchmann: I had extremely bad legs

For Emanuel Buchmann from BORA – ARGON 18 it was the last chance to gain some time to get into the top 20 in the GC. BORA – ARGON 18 had the young Austrian Patrick Konrad in the break. He was back in the peloton when they hit the final climb. The pace from Sky was so fast that both Bora riders were dropped five kilometres from the top.


Emanuel Buchmann did a solid performance, stayed long in the group with all favourites and finished in 34th place with a gap of +9’10’’. Bartosz Huzarski crossed the line together with him in 35th place. He moved up to 3rd place in the general classification of the young riders.


“Today it was again a really hard day from the start. I had extremely bad legs and so it was a torture all over the day. On the penultimate climb I couldn’t hold the group with the favourites, but in the downhill Bartosz helped me to get back into the group. From the bottom of the last climb I rode my own speed together with Bartosz. He was at my side the whole day and supported me. In the GC I’m now in 21th place, which is for me still ok. Of course, the 20th place was my goal, but I didn’t have the necessary luck to go in the right group. The situation this year was new for me, because last year I didn’t have this pressure. Nobody cared if I lost a few minutes. This year I had to be fully focused on every single stage,” said Emanuel Buchmann.


Bauke Mollema: When I was dropped, I was close to giving up

Bauke Mollema showed grit and determination in the final mountain stage of the 2016 Tour de France Saturday. When Mollema struggled on the penultimate ascent and fell off the pace of the GC contenders, the Tour appeared finished for the Dutch climber, who had ridden brilliantly until it all came crashing down on the wet, slick roads at the end of yesterday's race.


But Mollema, close to throwing in the towel, fought back to rejoin the yellow jersey group with help from Haimar Zubeldia, and then attacked them on the final climb of the 2016 Tour, the Col de Joux-Plane.


It was a courageous act. A massive mental triumph. After riding beyond expectations for over two weeks just to lose it all on the rain-slick roads yesterday, Mollema showed great fortitude in stage 20 by battling back, then launching a last brave attack.


"It was a rough start," said Mollema. "I didn't have a lot of moral after yesterday when the goal to finish on the podium was gone. It was not easy to focus again on today's stage. I struggled because of the crash yesterday, but today was harder mentally than physically.


"When I was dropped, I was close to giving up. It was a difficult moment for me there. It's hard, especially knowing that it would be difficult to move up in GC and after all that happened yesterday. Then in one moment I found the legs a bit again, and the will to go again. I have to thank my teammates and director for helping me, motivating me pushing me. I really needed that today."


 Zubeldia dropped out of the yellow-jersey group, urging Mollema on and pacing him back ahead of the Joux-Plane. When Fränk Schleck and Jasper Stuyven, both part of the original large breakaway, were swept up in the valley, the team, as they had done all race, rallied around Mollema one final time.


"When I got back [to the peloton], Kim (Andersen, director) was pushing and motivating me," continued Mollema. "I felt okay on the last climb. Jasper and the guys brought me to the front and then I just went, I just wanted to try. I didn't feel super, but you never know. I knew it was going to be hard and maybe foolish, but I didn't want to leave the scene without a fight. I'm glad I did it."


Team Sky gradually pulled Mollema back, catching him a few kilometers later. Mollema paid a price for his effort, unable to stay with the yellow jersey group again. But this time, he was content. Mollema carefully and slowly picked his way down the final rainy descent and crossed the finish line alone.


He dropped one spot to 11th GC, but it was inconsequential. Mollema had recaptured his morale and left the Tour as he had ridden for 20 days. With grit.


Mollema added: 


"When I was dropped, of course it crossed my mind to let go entirely, but I refused, and the team helped so much as they kept pushing and motivating me. It was good for the morale to be in front, even though the GC group came back. It was important for me, and the team, to leave the Tour with a better feeling than the feeling we had yesterday."


Warren Barguil comes up short in final mountain stage

With nobody from the team in the break, Warren Barguil decided to chase the group and he eventually made contact with the front group with 100km remaining. On the third climb of the day, the front group split up and in the first instance Warren Barguil was part of the chasing group but in the wet and slippery descent, he was unable to follow the chase group.  At the time the bunch started the final climb, Warren Barguil was swallowed up by the yellow jersey group with 20km to go.


Simon Geschke raced to 45th place with Warren Barguil finishing 70th. Barguil is now 23rd ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.


Coach Marc Reef said:


“We tried to be in the breakaway to go for the stage win. We missed a big group and Warren tried to bridge the gap. On the second climb he caught up but immediately in the descent the group split. Then this group further split again and Warren was caught back by the yellow jersey group on the final climb. Overall it was a hard day with changing weather circumstances and the rest of the team came in within the time limit.”


Anonymous final mountain stage for Dimension Data

Once again, a big early break of around 35 riders went clear in the opening kilometers. Daniel Teklehaimanot, the Eritrean champion, set off after the big break once the gap had already reached 1 minute. Teklehaimanot was able to join forces with Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and the duo made it across to the big group up front, just as they started attacking one another again.


A smaller group went off the front with the final 2 big climbs of the stage to go. It was from this group that the stage winner would be decided. Teklehaimanot and the rest of the break had to give up the chase as the Yellow Jersey group reeled them in on the penultimate climb of the stage.


The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders where not taking any risks, riding safely in the grupetto.


Sports director JP Heynderickx said:

“There was a big break that went today. Daniel reacted a bit late but finally, after a big effort he could make it across. Once he got there they started the next climb and almost immediately he paid for the big effort he had to make. From there on we didn’t have many options for the stage but it was important to get the rest of our riders to finish safely, which we were able to do.”



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