Tour de France: Caleb Ewan takes stage 16 in thrilling finish
Geraint Thomas took another fall as European heatwave sent temperatures soaring
The pack rides next to the Pont du Gard during the 16th stage of the Tour de France in Nimes. Photo: Christophe Ena/AP Photo
Geraint Thomas survived another unexpected tumble in the Tour de France, as heatwave conditions settled on the peloton on stage 16, a rolling loop around Nîmes that climaxed in a convincing sprint win for Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, also stage 11 winner in Toulouse.
Thomas’s fall came as he took a right hand bend after almost 50km of racing and appeared to be caused by him clipping the road surface with a pedal as he cornered. It was the Team Ineos rider’s third crash in this year’s Tour and his fourth fall since he crashed heavily in the Tour of Switzerland in mid-June.
However, as in Brussels and St Etienne, the defending champion escaped with only minor cuts and scrapes on his left side and, after a bike change, was soon paced back into the peloton by his Ineos teammates. But as the race enters its crucial final stage, his latest fall will have set team manager Dave Brailsford’s nerves jangling.
In contrast, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang, ninth overall and a contender for the podium positions, was forced to abandon after his second crash of the race, as the peloton sped through Uzes, during the final hour’s racing.
As cauldron-like temperatures settled on southern France, the main contest for the day was how many drinks bottles any one rider could carry, but despite the torrid temperatures, a five-man breakaway formed, of teams that have enjoyed little success to date, composed of Lukas Wisnowski (CCC), Lars Bak (Dimension Data) and Paul Ourselin (Total), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R) and Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis).
Once again the peloton kept the escapees on a tight leash and with crosswinds threatening on the fast run in to Nîmes’ baking boulevards, the quintet were eventually swamped by their pursuers on the approach to the finishing straight, setting up a second sprint success for the Australian. – Guardian