During the exciting finale of stage 16, Alberto Contador fell during the descent almost causing Chris Froome to fall too.
Stage 16 from Vaison-La-Romaine to Gap started immediately with attacks. No attacks from the contenders of the general classifications but from riders who desperately want to earn some money. The first break out was of a group of 20 riders where later on 11 more cyclists joined. This group didn’t make it and was caught after just 29km.
At around 40km from the start a group of 26 riders got away and team Sky judged that they could have their blessing. Men like Johnny Hoogerland, Nicholas Roche, Andreas Kloeden, Philippe Gilbert and Rui Costa were all present in this group and they took minute after minute on the group of the yellow Jersey.
At the foot of the last climb the cohesion of the front group disappeared and they started to attack each other. The most successful attack came finally from Rui Costa who soloed to the finish line and took the victory.
In the mean time around Chris Froome a group of eight riders had formed. All the rivals were present. Froome was constantly challenged by Alberto Contador on the final climb and it was Richie Porte who constantly closed the gap. When on the descent Contador did another attempt to ride away from Froome, he lost his balance and fell.
"This is pure and simple cycling. Today we tried and in the end a Belkin rider was unhooked and another was on the ropes," Contador commented after the race.
"Now I just hope that the fall does not affect me more than to sleep a little worse. Tomorrow could be an important day."
Finally, he indicated that his attacking style would be a persistent thorn in Sky's side as the British team is aiming to ride smoothly with the yellow jersey to Paris.
"I have not been able to make differences, but the legs are getting better and I hope I can give some spectacle. I don't know if we'll win or not, but I hope the people behind the TV will enjoy.”
Chris Froome was less happy with the attacking Contador. "Personally I do think that he was taking too many risks down there, and evidently he did go a little too fast and he couldn’t hold his own speed and he crashed. I was laying off just a little bit but enough to try and stay in touch with him."
"I personally think that teams are starting to get desperate now and therefore are taking uncalculated risks," Froome added.
With Chris Froome in top shape, it is not expected that he will loose the yellow jersey in stage 17. The 32km from Embrun to Chorges include two category 2 climbs and looks like it is made for Froome. If the wounds of Contador don’t play him parts then the stage is also an ideal one for the Spaniard.
Although Mollema won 10 seconds in the last TT on Contador, he has to do his very best to keep the second position safe.