This is just the sort of stage where I would expect to see Peter Sagan lay down the gauntlet for the green jersey if he hadn’t done so already. Alas in his absence a serious dynamic to cycling has been lost on the Tour de France this year.
A bunch sprint is virtually guaranteed in stage 16 of the Tour de France, the first stage of the last leg of the Tour. Tactics will still play a vital role in each and every stage of the race, but with thousands of kilometres of racing in the legs already, simply having the endurance and strength to get to the end amongst the leaders will play more of a role.
As we head into stage 16 it’s the battle for the green jersey that we’re most interested in. Marcel Kittel, if he can stay amongst the front runners, will almost certainly win his sixth stage of this year’s Tour; a monumental achievement. It’s hardly surprising though. In each of his past five wins in this year’s Tour he’s displayed that not only is he simply the best sprinter in the race, he simply has the best team for the sprints. Look out for Jack Bauer once again to be front and centre in the closing kilometres as he has been so influentially already in the race.
But there is a chance, however small, that Kittel might not even be there to contest the win. Our reason for saying this is the first 65km of racing. This is the kind of section of course that Peter Sagan would be rubbing his hands together in glee. We have seen the Slovakian and his team drive the pace in the peloton furiously on terrain such as this, dropping the purer sprinters in the process to great effect.
But with Sagan gone, could Michael Matthews and his Team Sunweb outfit carry out the same sort of action? Matthews has shown that he has far from given up on the green jersey battle, and when the road gets tough he has the beating of Marcel Kittel. If he and Sunweb can pile on the pressure in those opening 65km he could really stretch the likes of Kittel, Greipel, Kristoff and Bouhanni. But then the other question is will he be able to hold on to his advantage for the following 100km if this is a tactic he does employ?
RoadCycling’s prediction for stage 16 is:
1st: Marcel Kittel
2nd: Michael Matthews
3rd: Edvald Boasson Hagen
4th: Alexander Kristoff
5th: Andre Greipel