Tour de France: Michael Matthews wins stage 16, Froome still in yellow

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"I left a space between me and the barrier", Matthews said, adding that Degenkolb had grabbed him by the neck after the finish.

"From my perspective I didn't do anything wrong", he said. I didn't change my line, I sprinted in a straight line. The officials saw that, I don't know what they're going to do about it.

"He has his game plan and we have ours and we'll see which one is best in Paris".

Amid heavy crosswinds that played havoc in the finale of Tuesday's 165-kilometer (102.5-mile) Stage 16 between Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-en-Isere, Team Sky riders tried to unsettle their opponents by setting a frenetic tempo that split the pack like a jigsaw puzzle. "Kittel is the fastest guy on the flats, so I won't beat him on those, but I need to get points everywhere else, like the hilly stages and uphill sprints".

The crosswinds got rid of other top sprinters Andre Greipel and Alexander Kristoff, leaving little competition for Matthews at the finish.


"It wasn't our day today but we have to move on and think of the next chances not missed opportunities".

The defending champion feared he would lose the yellow jersey due to a damaged wheel on stage 15, but he recovered to keep his advantage intact after Michal Kwiatkowski removed his wheel and fitted it on the Brit's bike to save him time. "It was there that we decided we had to go, to ride hard and try to make a selection".

The Italian remains second at 18sec with Bardet third at 23sec.

Froome stayed 18 seconds ahead of Fabio Aru in the general classification after staying out of trouble following a rest day, which was more than welcome after he endured a scare on Sunday. "We worked so hard to be in this position but it's not over".

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