Tour: Aru still 18 secs down on Froome

Chris Froome fought through fierce crosswinds to retain the yellow jersey as Michael Matthews won a frantic stage 16 of the Tour de France to Romans-sur-Isere.

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.

"I don't think it's very sportsmanlike".

The peloton battled strong winds over lengthy stretches of the 165 kilometres stage from Le Puy-en-Velay, but three-time Tour victor Froome stayed on the right side as the peloton split into pieces towards the end. "I called the boys and they came to the front with big smiles on their faces and went full gas".

Matthews said with so few stages left he would be hunting high and low for points over the next few days as he tries to snatch the green top from powerhouse Kittel, who has already won five stages at this year's event. We put on a courageous face this morning hoping that they would be able to protect me but in the end I only had Gianluca (Brambilla) and Jack (Bauer).

He added: "Nothing is lost".

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Overall leader Chris Froome managed to stick with the leading pack and therefore kept hold of the yellow jersey.

"Everyone knew that the last 20km would be in the wind with crosswinds", said Sky's Froome.

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

Irishman Dan Martin was one of the highest profile losers of the stage.

"I was a bit sick yesterday and then some of the other guys have been sick as well", Martin said. It happens. It's unfortunate.

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