Out of the 21 stages of the 2016 Tour de France, 11 stages have come to pass. The riders rode through gruelling uphill climbs and challenging straights for 9 continuous stages before coming to the rest day before the 10th stage. After the first nine stages, defending champions Chris Froome led the pack with a lead of about 16 seconds over fellow Briton Adam Yates. There was plenty of excitement during the various stages with some memorable performances and some unexpected upsets. British riders were exceptionally successful in this year’s event.
The stage 1 of this year’s Tour de France was from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. The route was relatively simple and the stage was set for a sprint victory. Manxman Mark Cavendish achieved a sensational victory with a remarkable sprint to wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. The win was Cavendish’s 27th Tour de France stage victory. Alberto Contador, one of this year’s favourites was involved in a crash but was relatively unhurt.
The second stage was from Saint-Lo to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin-a distance of 183km. Mark Cavendish entered stage 2 with a nearly impossible task of retaining the yellow jersey. Slovakian world champion Peter Sagan put in an impressive performance to take the yellow jersey from Cavendish. Belgian Jasper Stuyven broke away from the peloton but was caught up by the same in the final 500 metres of an uphill finish. Defending champion Chris Froome and major rival Nairo Quintana finished together. Alberto Contador was in a crash for the second time and lost precious time.
On Day 3, riders had to go from Granville to Angers-a distance 223.5km. The stage ended with one of the most memorable photo finishes in the tournament. Mark Cavendish and German rival Andre Greipel were neck-to-neck as they rode past the finish line. After much deliberation, tournament officials declared Cavendish as the winner and the Briton made it his 28th stage victory. Peter Sagan retained the yellow jersey with a lead of 8 seconds over Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.
Day 4 required the riders to ride 237.5 km from Saumur to Limoges. The stage was as memorable as the previous one as it also ended in a photo finish. German Marcel Kittel, who missed last year’s tour got his first stage win of the tournament by beating Frenchman Bryan Coquard by millimetres. The yellow jersey was once again in the possession of world champion Peter Sagan, who finished third. After the third stage, the Slovak had a lead of 12 seconds over Julian Alaphilippe in the general classification.
The fifth stage was the first mountain stage of this year’s Tour and it began at Limoges and ended at Le Lioran. The uphill climb meant that the sprinters were shunted to the rear of the pack while the climbers took the lead. Belgian Greg van Avermaet after breaking away early with 9 other riders before finishing at the top with a huge lead of over 5 minutes. Van Avermaet took the yellow jersey from Peter Sagan and wore it for the first time in his career. Fellow Belgian Thomas de Gendt was alongside Van Avermaet right till the ascent of Col du Perthus. However, Van Avermaet powered away to finish the last 17 Km by himself.
m ride from Arpajon-sur-Cere to Montauban provided an ideal opportunity for all-rounders to recover lost lead. Mark Cavendish continued his great start to the 2016 Tour de France with a thrilling victory during the 6th stage of the competition. The Briton powered through the final sprint to edge out rival Marcel Kittel to earn his 29th stage win. Cavendish moved above Slovak Peter Sagan in the sprinter’s green jersey standing and it looked like he was going to hold on to it for a while. Greg van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey on the account of his enormous lead during the 5th stage.
As the race entered the Pyrenees, it was Britain’s Steve Cummings who came out on top to win the 7th stage of the Tour. Out of the 7 stages held during this year’s event, 4 have been won by British riders (Mark Cavendish-3, Steve Cummings-1). Both riders belong to the Dimension Data racing team. Greg van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey with a ~6 second lead over Briton Adam Yates, who was obstructed by a collapsed inflatable arch marking the final 1km. Defending champion Chris Froome maintained a mid-table position of 6th place in the overall rankings.
The 8 stage from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon( 183km), involved 4 categorised climbs. After an average start to this year’s Tour, defending champion Chris Froome showed his class by achieving a spectacular victory during the 8th stage. The Briton went on the offensive during the descent onto the finish at Bagneres de Luchon to claim the yellow jersey from Greg van Avermaet who lost almost 25 minutes to tumble down the rankings. Adam Yates stood at second position in the general classification and was trailing by 16 seconds.
The final stage before a rest day began at Vielha Val d'Aran and ended at Andorre Arcalis-a distance of 184.5 Km. The weather did no favours to the riders as scorching heat turned to pouring rain towards the finish. Dutchman Tom Doumiln notched his first stage win of this year’s Tour. Doumlin powered uphill towards the first mountain finish of this year’s event. Despite coming under pressure from rivals, Chris Froom managed to retain the yellow jersey. Adam Yates finished second in the overall rankings after the 9th stage.
Jersey Holders after the 9th Stage
Yellow Jersey: Chris Froome
Green Jersey: Mark Cavendish
Polka dot Jersey: Thibaut Pinot
White Jersey: Adam Yates
The biggest upset after the 9th stage was that Alberto Contador, who started the 2016 Tour de France as a favourite, decided to call quits after falling ill during the 9th stage.