Was Froome ever going to do anything but lock the race up on this stage? Well, today he put it in a box, locked it, labelled it "Froome wins the 2016 Tour de France," and shut it in a safe with his other victories. Yes, he took his second stage victory of the race, and moved to almost four minutes ahead of his nearest challenger.
Tom Dumoulin was always going to be the man to set the early pace, and the dual stage winner indeed set a fearsome time, going ahead of Thomas De Gendt's time with a 31:04, which would net him second on the day. Nobody even looked close to challenging until the GC riders rolled out, starting with twelfth-placed Joaquím Rodríguez, who was the only rider of the day to attempt a strategic bike change. It worked for him, and he was a surprise eighth on the day, moving closer to the top ten.
Speaking of the top ten, the fight for that was on between Louis Meintjes, Daniel Martin and Fabio Aru, in tenth, ninth and eighth. Martin — very, very weirdly — was the fastest on the opening flat section, and had an okay ride to eighteenth on the day, but lost a couple of vital seconds to Meintjes. The South African moves up to ninth on GC, thanks to a ninth placed finish on the stage. Aru had what was close to the ride of the day, however. He got third on the stage, and leapfrogged Valverde to move into seventh.
Richie Porte and Chris Froome were two of the biggest favourites for the stage, and they took very contrasting styles. Chris Froome rode his time-trial machine, while Porte used a road bike with t-bars. Porte set the fastest time in the first section of the time-trial, with Froome in fifth, while Froome rode a negative split. Eventually, Froome's style won out, going from fifth to fourth to first in the final check. He sprinted to the line and beat Dumoulin by twenty-one seconds. Porte faded to fourth, a split second behind Aru.
Froome's closest contenders, Yates, Quintana and Mollema didn't have the best of days. Yates had a good time at the first split, but fell off the pace to finish sixteenth. He retains his third place, as Mollema retains his second with a similar ride, a good distance behind most of his competitors. Mollema, interestingly, rode a road bike with a disc wheel, which sounds distinctly worst-of-both-worlds to me. Quintana was the best of the three, securing a top ten and moving to within twenty-one seconds of Yates' podium spot. Romain Bardet had a stellar ride to fifth place, and is also in striking distance of a podium position.
|6.||BEL||Thomas De Gendt||LTS||1:02|