DESCENTS ARE BECOMING A REAL BATTLEGROUND
Descents have always played a big part in cycling but 2016 saw several instances in which they had as much effect on the overall outcome of races as the climbs, and the more organised teams are looking much harder at the planning and tactics. Team Sky led this trend in 2016 – they fitted a larger chainring to Geraint Thomas’s bike in the final stage of ParisNice, and while he looked to have been definitively dropped by Alberto Contador’s aggression on the Col d’Èze, the Brit’s pursuiting skills and larger gear meant that he was able to take back enough time before the finish to win the race. Similarly, Froome, along with his DS Nicolas Portal, had identified the descent of the Col de Peyresourde as an opportunity to gain time on his rivals at the Tour. Froome caught them napping and gained significant time, as well as a huge psychological advantage.