21 gifs that tell the story of the 2016 Tour de France

Well, what a year that was in the Tour de France. Team Sky's stranglehold on the race for yellow sucked a little bit of the excitement out of things, but there was still plenty to enjoy about this edition. From a resurgent Manx Missile, to the heroics of lesser-known riders and a constantly changing top ten – there was plenty to enjoy. There were also a good number of the gloriously weird occurrences that seem to gravitate to the Tour like no other race.

So what better way to relive all the action than with a weird gif for every day of the Tour?

Stage 1 – Crashtador

While Mark Cavendish won the stage, taking the yellow jersey (one of the few gaps in his glittering list of palmares) in the process – this stage should really be remembered for one momentous crash, that while seemingly innocuous, probably had more influence on the overall race than any other.

Love him or loathe him, a Grand Tour without Contador is always the poorer for his absence and this year's edition could definitely have done with the Spaniard to challenge Froome's authority in the mountains.

Stage 2 – Saganagain

Remember when it felt like not even all the money in billionaire team owner, Oleg Tinkov's bank account could buy Peter Sagan a win? No neither do I.  The Slovak smashed the uphill finish on stage two and went into yellow. Then he claimed he didn't even know he was sprinting for the win because he was under the impression there were still two breakaway riders still ahead. Sure Peter, sure.

Contador's crappy tour continued, with another crash, which necessitated a shoe change. Yes, a shoe change. And for one unlucky domestique, it also meant holding Bertie's innersole in his teeth while the team leader swapped shoes.

Stage 3 – Yaaaaaawwwwwwn

Tom Dumoulin summed up stage three perfectly.

A long stage, raced at mind-numbingly slow speeds. Won by Mark Cavendish.

Stage 4 – loooooong!

The longest stage of the race. Marcel 'hasn't he got lovely hair' Kittel won it in a bunch sprint and was visibly relieved to do so after missing out on the three previous stages, for which he was heavily fancied. 

Stage 5 – Tractor bike

It ain't the TdF until somebody's made art out of tractors.

Greg van Avermaet took the stage and the yellow jersey.

Stage 6 – Back to business

Mark Cavendish proved yet again that he don't need no steenking leadout train after simply piggybacking on Marcel Kittel and leapfrogging him at the last to take another stage win. Prior to that it was another fairly soporific day at the Tour. There was a horse though, which was quite fun.

Stage 7 – Kerblamme Rouge

This was the day the Tour de France 2016 started to get weird. In a scene reminiscent of Wacky Races, the flamme rouge (the 1km to go marker), which takes the form of a giant inflatable arch, collapsed on top of the peloton as they rode through. Adam Yates took the brunt of the impact, just as he was looking like making an attack. Superstar breakaway opportunist, Steve Cummings won the stage.

Stage 8 – That does not look normal

Froome takes yellow with a sneaky attack at the top of the Col du Peyresourde, prompting the cycling world to wince as one and say, "God, he looks even more awful on the bike than normal."

Don't try this at home kids. Because you'll look like a tit.

Stage 9 – APOCALYPSE!

It really started to pee it down in the last hour of stage nine, just as the riders were reaching the foot of the Arcalis, a ferocious climb in the mountainous country of Andorra. Fortunately, undeterred by the rain, big Tommy McWindmills entered the cottage of wattage and didn't come out until he crossed the line at the summit. I love him.   

Stage 9 was also Alberto Contador's last day at the Tour. He quit before the going got really tough, with a fever, he said.

Stage 10 – No rest for the wicked

After a day's repose in Andorra la Vella – a city, it's fair to say, that did not capture the affections of many cycling journalists who stayed there – the Tour was off again. The day was won by Michael Matthews, who dedicated the win to his dog.

More importantly though, Mark Cavendish who was perhaps finding the day a little bit tougher than he'd have liked, had some pretty frank words for a motorbike cameraman.

Stage 11 – More like, 'CrossWINs', ammiright?

Ah, the crosswind, the constant lurking boogieman that can turn a dull-as-ditchwater flat sprint stage into a complete clusterf*ck at any moment. Somehow the pan flat stage turned into Chris Froome gaining yet more time on his GC rivals. Movistar proving, once again, that they do not do well in these sorts of weather conditions. Here's the yellow and green jerseys sprinting it out for the line – something you don't see very often.

Stage 12 – Runnin' up that hill

Basically the cycling world had a meltdown. The commentators announced there had been a crash. Then the TV pictures cut to Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux. It was comical. It was surreal. It was the best bit of the Tour so far. There was altogether too much po-faced consternation about crowd control in the wake of the crash (caused by a moto getting stuck and Richie Porte running into the back of it). In the furore surrounding Froome's adorkable waddling canter up the hill, this gif did not get the airtime it deserved.  

Stage 13 – Basically still just talking about stage 12

When the man in the yellow jersey has to run up Mont Ventoux, it's hard to move on. Most of Stage 13 was spent cracking jokes about the previous day's events. It didn't help that stage 13 was an ITT – the most boring of all the types of stage. Nevertheless, there was the sight of Romain Bardet nearly getting blown off his bike to enjoy, and a second stage win for Tom Dumoulin. I love him.

Stage 14 – Wasp!

A really, really dull day. So much so that Carlton Kirby, Eurosport commentator extraordinaire, being stung on the arm by a wasp was the most exciting thing that happened. Not strictly a gif, because you need the sound on to enjoy it.

Stage 15 – Talk about showing off

You know that smug kid who can't resist rubbing it in a bit that they're the best at something. That's Chris Froome, that is. Here he is, jumping out from behind Wout Poels like a cartoon coyote.

Ha. Haha. Good one, Chris. While he was dicking about toying with Quintana like a human plaything, Jarlinson Pantano was doing his best to get a new contract when current team IAM Cycling folds at the end of the year by nicking a stage win. Well done Jarlinson. Well, Jarlinsdone.

Stage 16 – Feel the Berne

According to the fairytale narrative this should've been a win for Swiss legend, Fabian Cancellara, in his hometown at his final Tour de France. Peter Sagan just had to spoil the party though. Never mind Fabian, let the mitten of disappointment soothe your regrets.

Stage 17 – Excuse me, may I use your lavatory

The age old question of what cyclists do if they need to go number two while riding was answered on stage 17, when Peter Sagan pulled up (he was in the breakaway at the time) to make use of the toilet in a TdF spectator's motorhome. Yes. That is a thing that actually happened.

We don't have a gif of Sagz entering the motorhome, but the story goes a long way to explaining why TV cameras cut to the Slovakian putting his shirt back on, while climbing the Col du Forclaz a few minutes later. 

Ilnur Zakarin won the stage with a punchy late solo attack.

Stage 18 – Mountain

Oh Joy, another ITT. Chris Froome won the day, further cementing his lead in the GC. Handsome Tom Dumoulin came second. Some riders found the final corner a little bit tricky.

Stage 19 – They see me Rolland, Rolland...

It was a pretty miserable Tour for Pierre Rolland. He had a torrid first week that put him at a huge deficit, and then, just as he was starting to feel better, he crashed on a skatey descent. Points for duration of slide and heroically finishing the stage. 

He wasn't the only one to fall, with Froome, Mollema, Nibali, Porte all hitting the decks at various points. Another Frenchman, Romain capitalised on the slippery conditions by taking the stage win and making it a Bardet-day. 

Stage 20 – Aru serious?

The Tour reached its inevitable conclusion, with the final mountain day. Astana, inexplicably, chose the penultimate day of the Tour to all start riding for their leader Fabio Aru. They took to the front, Team Sky-style, in an impressive show of team unity. Until... 

Translation:

Diego Rosa: Can we slow down a little bit, Andriy?
Andriy Grivko: Be gone, insect. Go ride with your new Team Sky paymasters if you do not like my pace.
Roas: But you're cracking Fabio!
Grivko: He cracked himself. Go from my sight, turncoat scum, or I will crack you too.

This surreal moment was a fairly good metaphor for the rest of the tour. The disharmony among all of Sky's rivals meant they were essentially gifted the Tour. By the time Astana worked out how to beat Sky, they had already won.

Stage 21 – Into Paris

The traditional piss-take stage into Paris included the usual jubilant horsing about from the team in yellow. Froome fetched some bottles from the team car for his team mates, but instead of water he got them beers – MEGALOLZ! Thankfully, Marcel Kittel gave us something fun to watch, with this little strop on the Champs-Elysees. We've seen bike throws before, but never a bike wheel boomerang. Chapeau Marcel.

And that, just about wrapped things up. Marcel's crap day continued, when the wrong German (Andre Greipel) won the final sprint. Champagne was drunk, anthems played. And so on and so on. 

Only 26 days till the Vuelta!