The last summit finish of the 2016 Tour de France came and went, with the general classification race shaken up by a series of crashes more than anything. Chris Froome’s overall lead looked unassailable even before he won yesterday’s time trial, but the rest of the top ten has been a jumbled mess. This morning’s stage shook up the standings all over again, with plucky Frenchman Romain Bardet vaulting to second place and former second-place rider Bauke Mollema slipping all the way back to tenth. Tomorrow is the final competitive stage of the race, and I’m sure the standings will flip flop all over again, with three fairly serious categorized climbs and a limping, husk of a peloton struggling to impose order.
As for this morning, Bardet only achieved the initial separation for his winning move because of the dozen or so crashes that thinned the peloton behind him. Double stage winner Tom Dumoulin abandoned along with a handful of other riders, Bauke Mollema almost rode his bike into the damn woods, and the yellow jersey even fell. It rained for most of the last two hours of the race, making the freshly-paved roads rather treacherous.
Here’s the crash that took out Dumoulin. His team announced that he has a broken wrist, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to race in the Olympics (where he is the favorite to win gold in the individual time trial).
After bridging up to Rui Costa after the summit of the penultimate climb, Pierre Roland slid out at speed, skidded across the road, and ended up in a heap in the mud. Rolland finished the stage, but appeared pretty torn up.
Then, Bauke Mollema tried to ride into the woods on accident, which eventually cost him eight places in the standings.
Chris Froome fell a few kilometers later, after he tried to cross over a slick road line, and he took Vincenzo Nibali down with him. Unlike Mollema, Froome got back up the front group with ease after he borrowed Geraint Thomas’ bike and finished just behind the attacking Nairo Quintana to retain his overall lead by more than four minutes.
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for even more rain, and with a rapid descent into the finish, it could get ugly all over again on the final mountain stage.