Analytics in Action – Stage 16Blog
Matthews finds a way through the wind … and around Kittel
A hard day of racing through blustering winds allowed Marcel Kittel's (QST) rivals to overcome his sprinting dominance, with Michael Matthews (SUN) snatching victory at Romans-sur-Isère.
When Marcel Kittel (QST) isn’t around, other sprinters have a chance to shine. Michael Matthews (SUN) made the most of an intense day of racing in windy conditions to take his second stage win on the 2017 Tour, while The Green Jersey was trapped at the back. The Australian capped off a day well controlled by his teammates with a sprint in which he hit 71.5km/h, just beating Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) and John Degenkolb (TFS) to the finish.
The driving wind and the hard pace not only troubled Kittel (AST), but also stirred up the General Classification. An acceleration from Team Sky in the final 12km, through 35km/h crosswinds, saw the Yellow Jersey Chris Froome (SKY) take 51" off Daniel Martin (QST).
The punishing pace from the start of the stage set things up for an exciting finish. There were brave attacks from the beginning, but no rider managed to create a proper gap in the first 20.5km of uphill, which was covered at 34.3km/h by those leading the charge. That got Marcel Kittel (QST) in trouble early on, but created opportunities for his challengers.
Team Sunweb, Lotto-Soudal, and Katusha, whose fastest men all remained in the front group, decided to gang up against Kittel. And successfully so, as the German seemed to be running on an empty tank. On a better day, he might have been able to bridge the gap, as Nacer Bouhanni (COF) did. But it wasn't Kittel's (QST) day: he suffered for most of it on the windswept roads.
Key data highlights:
1.) The first group averaged 45.4km/h across the stage, even through the wind.
2.) Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) takes his fourth podium finish on the 2017 Tour, but still hasn't found his way to victory.
3.) George Bennett (TLJ), who was 12th in the General Classification at the start of the day, had to withdraw due to illness. Now, 173 riders remain in the race.
4.) Gusts of up 60km/h shook the Peloton in what was the windiest day on the Tour so far.
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