Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan collected his third stage win of the 2016 Tour de France on Monday (18 July). The green Jersey holder edged Alexander Kristoff to the line in an exciting sprint photo finish at the end of a long 209km journey from Moirans-en-Montagne to the Swiss capital of Bern.
Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe led the way for much of the stage, pursued by a four-man breakaway of Timo Roosen, Lawson Craddock, Pierre-Luc Perichon and Nicolas Edet. The Etixx-Quick Step duo were eventually reeled in by the peloton before Lampre-Merida's Rui Costa launched an attack of his own.
The Portuguese still led with around 5km left, but he could not sustain that effort over the tricky, twisting and partially-cobbled finish. Sagan, points winner in each of the last four Tours, narrowly emerged as the victor from a dramatic bunch sprint ahead of Kristoff, Sondre Holst Enger, John Degenkolb and Michael Matthews. Home favourite Fabian Cancellara crossed the line in sixth.
"It was a very hot stage," Sagan told ITV4 after his latest triumph. "I'm thankful to the team and a lot of times I lose the race but now I won and I think destiny is turning back now."
Race leader Chris Froome finished safely in 14th, maintaining his one minute and 47 second advantage over nearest rival Bauke Mollema at the top of the general classification. Fellow Briton Adam Yates, now known as 'the Shadow' for his uncanny ability to cling on to the back of the leading group, is still in white and remains third overall. He is two minutes and 45 seconds off the lead.
"I wasn't up at the front in the last few kilometres," Froome said. "It was pretty sketchy through all the towns with a lot of road furniture, lefts and rights and then obviously the cobbles at the end. I was just trying to stay out of trouble and get to the finish line as good as possible. I think everyone is quite glad there's a rest day tomorrow – it was a tough day out there.
"I'm looking forward to the Alps. I'm motivated and I think the team's been great. I'm really looking forward to these last few days now. The team's in fantastic shape. I don't think we've ever been at this point in the race and still had nine riders left. That's a great advantage for us. The guys are doing well and the morale is good. We've got a lot to fight for still."
Following that hectic climax, the Tour now takes a one-day break in Switzerland before a punishing four-stage journey through the Alps. The race ends with the traditional procession into Paris next Sunday (24 July).