RODEZ: Australian Michael Matthews won the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday as Chris Froome retook the yellow jersey from Fabio Aru. Matthews won comfortably ahead of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet in the tough uphill sprint finish to the 181.5km stage from Blagnac to Rodez, with Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen third. Aru was caught out well down in the peloton as gaps appeared in the finale, allowing reigning champion Froome to retake the jersey he’d lost to the Italian on Thursday. “It’s a great day today, I didn’t think I could get back the jersey on a stage like this,” admitted a smiling Froome. In this type of finish, positioning is crucial and Aru failed to manouevre himself to the front of the peloton in a rapid last 10km. Froome did, though, and was in the right place when the sprint for the line started in the last 600 metres. The Briton finished seventh, just a second behind Matthews, while Aru was down in 30th, 25 seconds further adrift.
Froome now leads the race by 19sec from Aru with Romain Bardet third at 23sec having also lost four seconds to Froome in the finish, although gained two on the yellow jersey. Of the overall contenders, only Rigoberto Uran and Dan Martin stuck with Froome. Uran remains fourth but closed in to 29sec off the lead, with Martin also gaining six seconds and now at 1:26 in sixth, just behind Froome’s Sky team-mate Mikel Landa at 1:17. Several riders in the top 10 overall were caught out with Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador finishing 23rd and 24th, 22sec behind Matthews.
Published in Daily Times, July 16th , 2017.