Tour de France 2017 : Stage 14 – Matthews rules ramp up to Rodez

Michael Matthews finally takes his longed-for stage win, repaying the effort expended all day long by his Sunweb teammates and earning his team their second consecutive stage victory. Runner-up Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) came second and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension-Data) rounded out the podium. Chris Froome, Dan Martin and Rigoberto Uran were the only GC riders alive to the dangers on today’s finish and came in with the sprinters. Race leader Fabio Aru inexplicably finished 30th, 26 seconds back allowing Froome to retake yellow. Aru now lies second, 18 seconds back. Just over a minute separates the top-five on GC.

Rider of the Race

There can only be one winner today, and it’s the stage winner Michael “Bling” Matthews. On a deceptively tough transition stage of 181.5km from Toulouse to Rodez, an early five-man breakaway was kept on a tight rein by the classics’ teams, with the last man standing, Thomas de Gendt, caught with just over 12km to go. While another small group unsuccessfully chanced their arm, they were brought to heel as the teams powered their way to the foot of  the Cote de Saint-Pierre (570m at 9.6%), each hoping to launch their puncheurs to victory atop the steep ramp.

PhilGil was the first to strike while GVA and Matthews waited on his wheel. GVA moved ahead, hoping to replicate his 2015 success here, while Matthews timed his surge for the line to perfection coming around the others in the final couple of hundred metres to sail confidently across the line by over a bike length. This is his second stage victory in the Tour after last year’s win, bringing his grand tour total to six. More importantly, he has closed the gap to points’ jersey leader Marcel Kittel to just 99 points – game on!

Post-race, Matthews said:

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. 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 team-mates in the final, because we had to ride quite hard to bring De Gendt back. It was a perfect day.

Indeed it was a perfect day, the second consecutive one for his team after Bling’s roommate Warren Barguil won yesterday on Bastille Day. Today, WaWa was on bidon duty.

Le Monde’s nap advice

I’m loving that this year we can see each stage from start to finish, but there are times during some stages where you can easily grab a spot of shut-eye without missing any of the action.

The last word

Top 5 stage 

1 Michael Matthews (Sunweb) 4:21:56

2 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) same time

3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) +0:01

4 Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) same time

5 Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) s/t

Top 5 GC 

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 59:52:09

2 Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:18

3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:23

4 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:29

5 Mikel Landa (Sky) +1:17

All the jerseys

Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)

Points: Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors)

KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)

Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)

Team Classification: Sky

Most Aggressive Rider: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)

For race reviews, go to CyclingNews; official LeTour website is here

Header image: Michael Matthews Team Sunweb ASO/Alex Broadway

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