photo credits @ Le Tour/ASO
Michael Matthews (Tean Sunweb) battled his way up the final in Rodez to claim stage 14 of the Tour de France today, after surging past Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) to seize the victory by a mere bike length, while Edvard Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) held on to round out the podium in third place.
“I think last time we finished here two years ago, I had four broken ribs and skin off all over my body, and it was one of the stages I was really targeting before I crashed,” Matthews said after the stage. “Now, to come back on the same finish and to win like that, it’s really a dream come true.”
“We rode all day, and when we kept the breakaway so close, I knew it was going to be hard to have a lot of teammates in the final, because we had to ride quite hard to bring De Gendt back.
“It was a perfect day.”
Meanwhile, race leader Fabio Aru (Astana) found himself too far back in the field, ultimately losing time to his main rival, Chris Froome (Sky), who succeeded in reclaiming the yellow jersey from the Italian rider.
Froome now leads Aru by 19 seconds, and 23 seconds over Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale).
Maxime Bouet (Team Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Reto Hollenstein (Team Katusha – Alpecin), Timo Roosen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) comprised the day’s five-man breakaway group.
However, a watchful peloton never allowed the escapees to open up an advantage of more than 2:30.
As the peloton continued to close in on the breakaway group, De Gendt made an attempt to ride clear with 25 kilometers to go.
However, the Belgian rider was eventually reined in with 12.6 kilometers to go.
From there, a subsequent breakaway group came to form, this time containing Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team), Mauritz Lammertink (Team Katusha Alpecin), Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) and Pierre Luc Perichon (Team Fortuneo-Oscaro).
But, Team Sky and Quick-Step joined in on the chase effort at the front of the peloton, and ultimately reeled the quartet back in.
From that point on, Van Avermaet, Matthews, Boasson Hagen and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) battled one another for the stage honors along the final climb, with Matthews emerging victorious, while Froome and fellow GC contenders Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) finished just behind them.
Stage 14 – Top 10 result
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 4h21’56”
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data +01″
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal +5″
Top 10 general classification after stage 14
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 59h52’09”
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team +19″
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale +23″
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac +29″
5 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky +1’17”
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors +1’26”
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott +2’02”
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team +2’22”
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates +5’09”
10 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo +5’37”
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