Procycling - - Review Of The Year 2016 -

This was the year Chris Froome dis­cov­ered panache. His ex­hil­a­rat­ing de­scent to Lu­chon and the his­toric at­tack with Peter Sa­gan in the cross­winds to Mont­pel­lier seemed to mark a new de­par­ture. He’d al­ways had a rep­u­ta­tion for at­tacks on sum­mit fin­ishes, and then for sit­ting on his lead while his strong Sky team smoth­ered the am­bi­tion of his ri­vals.

How­ever, his time gain from these two stages amounted to just 35 sec­onds, in­clud­ing 16 sec­onds of bonuses. His fi­nal GC mar­gin over run­ner-up Ro­main Bardet was a much health­ier 4:05. But Froome didn’t ex­er­cise his usual dom­i­nance in the moun­tain stages ei­ther. He did chisel hand­fuls of sec­onds from var­i­ous ri­vals on the up­hill fin­ishes at An­dorra, Ven­toux and Fin­haut-Emos­son, but he’d not dropped all of his ri­vals as he’d done in pre­vi­ous years. At St Ger­vais, he ac­tu­ally con­ceded time to Bardet and sev­eral oth­ers.

Chris Froome won the 2016 Tour de France in the time tri­als. Psy­cho­log­i­cal dom­i­nance was es­tab­lished with the left­field at­tacks, for which his ri­vals seemed un­pre­pared. But ev­ery one of the riders in the fi­nal top 10 bar Richie Porte con­ceded three min­utes or more to Froome in the time tri­als. (Porte con­ceded 2:38, but his threat had al­ready been neu­tralised by a 1:45 loss on stage 2 af­ter a me­chan­i­cal.)

Run­ner-up Bardet lost 3:31 over the time tri­als. Add that to the 35 sec­onds Froome gained on him in Lu­chon and Mont­pel­lier and you get 4:06. With fewer kilo­me­tres of time tri­als in the 2017 race, Froome may find that the mar­gins are tight­en­ing.

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