BERN • World champion Peter Sagan pipped Alexander Kristoff in a photo finish to win the 16th stage of cycling's Tour de France yesterday.
Race leader Chris Froome came home in a much-reduced peloton at the end of the 209km ride from Moirans-en-Montagne to Bern in Switzerland, to maintain his advantage in the yellow jersey overall leader's competition.
Slovak Sagan claimed his third victory of this year's Tour and seventh in total with the third photo finish of the current race, clocking 4hr 26min 2sec.
This victory ensured this will go down as his best Tour yet, having also held the yellow jersey for three days during the first week.
He won the second and 11th stages before this, but his third stage victory outstrips the two gained in each of 2012 and 2013.
And as he is well on his way to winning a fifth straight green jersey for best sprinter, the 26-year-old is enjoying his best Tour yet - and the best season of his career.
He was world champion back in September last year and then won his first prestigious "Monument" one-day classic at April's Tour of Flanders.
As a group of about 20 riders neared yesterday's finish, each waiting for one another to attack first, the Norwegian Kristoff sprinted for the line, followed closely by the German rider John Degenkolb and Sagan, who powered around him.
With five metres to go, Degenkolb and Sagan were level but the Slovakian rider got his front wheel over the line first.
Froome's lead over his nearest challengers, Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands and British compatriot Adam Yates, stays at 1min 47sec and 2:45 respectively.
He said: "It was pretty sketchy, a lot of road furniture out there, and over those cobbles I was just trying to stay out of trouble.
"I think everyone's glad there is rest day tomorrow, that was tough out there. I'm pretty tired, to be honest.
"I'm looking forward to the Alps. I think the team's (Team Sky) in fantastic shape, I don't think we've ever been at this point in the race and still had nine riders left."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN