• Peter Sagan treated fans to a thrilling descent in Stage 16 (Getty Images) (AFP)Source: AFP
While he hasn’t won a stage at this year’s Tour de France, Peter Sagan has all but secured the green sprinters’ jersey with a fifth second place finish in Gap.
Cycling Central

21 Jul 2015 - 7:38 AM  UPDATED 21 Jul 2015 - 9:01 AM

After a thrilling, technical descent off the Col de Manse, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider crossed the line behind stage winner Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) and extended his points classification lead to 89 points over Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), who had won Stage 15 and edged a little closer to Sagan.

Despite his fast descent into Gap, Sagan noted that he found it difficult to establish common ground in the effort to bridge to Plaza but that he remained content with the outcome of the stage.

“If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort.

"Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open.

"I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and everyday something can happen and I have to make it to Paris” - Peter Sagan

The popular Slovak was particularly grateful for the impressive spectator encouragement he has experienced on the French roads.

“I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on, it’s really nice,” said Sagan, who has amassed 11 top-five finishes over the first 16 stages of the Tour.

“Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters.”

Tinkoff-Saxo sport director Steven de Jongh reiterated that Sagan’s effort had been impressive, especially given the energy he has expended throughout the Tour so far.

“First and foremost, I think it was very impressive that Peter was once again in the break on such a hard stage. Then it was naturally unfortunate that he was second once again," said de Jongh.

“I don’t think that he could have tried any harder, but the problem is that he is so strong that everybody is looking to him to make a move. Additionally, he has been active or in the break on almost every stage, so with such a big group as we had today, there’s a big chance that there will be a rider who is fresher than him.

“Also, we now have a good lead in the points classification, Peter indeed deserves that lead after his effort and it’s looking well at the moment.”

The team also received great news from Ivan Basso, who left the Tour after Stage 9 with a testicular cancer diagnosis.

Basso bounces back
Basso cleared of further cancer after successful surgery
The Tinkoff-Saxo team let out a collective sigh of relief overnight with the news that Ivan Basso had been cleared of additional treatment for testicular cancer.
Basso leaves Tour with testicular cancer
Former Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso withdrew from the Tour de France last night after revealing he has testicular cancer.

“The best news of the day came from Italy, where we learnt that Ivan doesn’t need any extra treatment after the whole tumor was removed. We are all very, very happy to hear this,” said de Jongh.

Stage 16 from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap took the riders 201km into the Alps with two Category 2 climbs on the final part of the stage. As Sagan crossed the line in Gap as part of the breakaway, team-mate Alberto Contador and the rest of the squad embarked on the finishing climb of the Col de Manse followed by its fast descent towards the line, where the GC favorites tested each other.

“Today has been much better,” said Contador after the stage, “but there was a lot of wind on the climb, which made it complicated. I think that when I attacked, some people had a little trouble but it was complicated to continue alone.

“Now I have a day of rest to recover and then we face the Alps, where we will see how it goes. In the Alps, I have to look for opportunities. This is a different Tour for me because I have big time differences to other riders and I’m not at the same strength as in other Tours so I have to look for other opportunities and if I find them I will try.

“Today was not a day for big opportunities, the margin was very small, just a few seconds, I tried and then Nibali tried but it was just a question of seconds. But a lot of challenges still remain in the Alps, where we will try,” Contador said.

More Stage 16 news
Thomas slams into telegraph pole on speedy descent
The Tour de France looked to be over for Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas after he flew off his bike and into a telegraph pole on the Stage 16 descent into Gap.
Plaza outfoxes Sagan to win in Gap
Veteran Ruben Plaza seized the day at the Tour de France to hold off Peter Sagan and take the biggest win of his career.

The SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker is the ultimate TDF app experience
This year’s Tour de France on SBS will offer you more than ever before with exclusive live start to finish coverage of every stage through the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker.