Michael Matthews won Stage 14 in an uphill sprint into Rodez to claim his second career victory at the Tour and narrow Marcel Kittel’s lead in the green jersey competition.
Matthews outsprinted former world champion Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep) and current Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC) to take the stage win by a bike length on the short, sharp climb into the finish in Rodez.
Chris Froome took the yellow jersey back from Fabio Aru after Aru was poorly positioned on the climb and Froome took advantage, his Team Sky team keeping him at the front of the peloton allowing him to finish 7th on the stage and put 24″ into Aru.
On paper the stage shouldn’t have caused any trouble for the GC but with the hilly finish saw Aru stuck in the middle of the peloton with no teammates for help when the pace was ramped up for the sprint finish by the classics-specialist teams. Froome showed his experience and knowledge of the finish by ensuring he and his team were at the front of the race on the run in to avoid that situation, which has paid dividends now he’s back in yellow with a significant lead going into Stage 15.
The day began as all stages do with a breakaway attempt, once again from Thomas Voeckler in a repeat of Stage 13. This time he was joined by three other riders: Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Souda) and the quartet quickly built a lead of 1’30” after 4km of racing when Katusha’s Reto Hollenstein decided he wanted to be a part of the break and began the long bridge across.
Despite the extra strength the break’s lead never went further than 3′ as De Gendt posed too much of a threat to take the stage as far as the peloton was concerned and was monitored closely. De Gendt took full points on the intermediate in Rabastens and Kittel won the sprint for the best of the rest, with Matthews on his wheel to reduce his gain by just 1 point.
The peloton was driven by BMC for Van Avermaet and Sunweb for Matthews even though BMC had a rider in the break. Opportunities for classics specialists to win stages of the Tour de France are few and far between so they didn’t want to miss out on this one. With 50km to go the race hit the rolling terrain on the outskirts of Rodez and the leaders had less than 2′ advantage.
Despite their strict control De Gendt still fancied his chances and after taking full points on the Cote du Viaduc (Cat3) and the Cote de Centres (Cat3) from Voeckler, he attacked the Frenchman and went away solo, getting a lead of 59″ with 20km to go. His efforts in the break had taken their toll though and the rolling terrain was too much for him to stay away alone, eventually being reeled in with 12.5km to go.
A late flourish from Maurits Lammertink (Katusha) was joined by Damiano Caruso (BMC), Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) and Pierre Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and they managed to get a handful of seconds on the peloton but were eventually brought back, although Lammertink was determined to try and stay away and took a little longer to bring back.
Team Sky had placed themselves and Froome at the front of the peloton with around 7km to go as Aru was dropping back through the peloton with no teammates to help him. QuickStep led the race onto the technical, steep ascent into Rodez with the classics riders showing their worth.
Gilbert led Van Avermaet and Matthews up the majority of the ramp but his efforts faded him and Matthews was able to come around Van Avermaet to take his stage win comfortably.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 14: Blagnac>Rodez 181.5km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Michael Matthews (Sunweb – Aus)||4:21:56″|
|2||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC – Bel)||s.t.|
|3||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data – Nor)||+1″|
|4||Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep – Bel)||s.t.|
|5||Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe – Aus)||s.t.|
|6||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida – Ita)||s.t.|
|7||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||s.t.|
|8||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||s.t.|
|9||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||s.t.|
|10||Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal – Bel)||+5″|
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||59:52:09″|
|2||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+18″|
|3||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+23″|
|4||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||+29″|
|5||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||+1’17”|
|6||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||+1’26”|
|7||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+2’02”|
|8||Nairo Quintana (Movistar – Col)||+2’22”|
|9||Louis Meintjes (UAE – RSA)||+5’09”|
|10||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafred0 – Spa)||+5’37″|