Matthews sprints to stage 16 win, Froome maintains lead in the wind

German Marcel Kittel, who was dropped early in the stage after failing to sustain the pace in the first climb, was 3.2kph slower on average than Australian stage victor Michael Matthews.

Two-time Tour victor Alberto Contador was also dropped, a day after his Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh told Dutch television this would be the Spaniard's final Tour.

It all went out the window with the crosswinds on Stage 16.

Chris Froome (middle) Tour de France victor 2015.

Matthews collected points in the intermediate sprint and at the finish to narrow the gap with Kittel to 29, setting up a duel with the Quick-Step Floors rider in the final days of the race.

"I was trying to get in the breakaway early, but Quick-Step was following, they didn't want me in the breakaway", Matthews said.

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Overall, Froome leads Italian Fabio Aru by 18 seconds.

While Tuesday's finish didn't have a significant impact on the top of the standings, Matthews and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen engaged in an epic sprint to the finish line.

Degenkolb complained that Matthews did not hold his line in the sprint, but the Australian was adamant he raced fairly. "I don't know what they're going to do about it", Matthews who is second in the race for the green points jersey, behind Kittel, said. I didn't change my line, I sprinted in a straight line.

Martin, in a second chase group, lost almost a minute in the final 20km and dropped to more than two minutes behind Froome - a massive loss on a day that should've been quiet for GC.

"It was not very sportsmanlike".

Chris Froome retained the overall lead in a hectic finale baulked by crosswinds that saw top 10 contenders Daniel Martin, Louis Meintjes (both 51sec) and Alberto Contador (1min 33sec) lose time.

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