Michael Matthews takes stage 14 as Froome reclaims the yellow jersey
176 riders started stage 14 and it was no surprise to the ever-popular Thomas Voeckler in the early breakaway. The stage was set up for Australian rider Michael Matthews to take the victory, he did not disappoint. Matthews, a delighted rider crossed the finish line after an uphill sprint, smiling from ear-to-ear.
“It went as expected. We rode all day. We kept the breakaway so close, I knew I’d very few team mates at the end, but still I had 2-3 guys with me in the final. It’s a sweet day. Last time here, two years ago, I had four broken ribs. It was the stage I targeted before I crashed. To come back and win is a dream come true.”
Thomas De Gendt displayed aggression and bravery with a solo break 23Km from the finish. The peloton were not too keen on letting the Belgian rider have anything other than a slender advantage of around one minute. De Gendt was eventually caught by the chasing bunch with 12.5KM to the finish.
With 12km to go, a cross-wind gave the peloton something to think about, a quartet of Damiano Caruso, Maurits Lammertink, Nikias Arndt and Pierre-luc Perrichon saw an opportunity to attack. Team Sky and Astana did not panic and controlled the pace at the front of the peloton.
Lammertink saw an opportunity put down the power, the Danish rider was the first man to breach the 5KM marker. Riders reached speeds of up to 85KMh on the twists and turns into Rodez. The uphill finish proved advantageous for Matthews and defending champion, Chris Froome. Matthews was far too strong in the final sprint for the chasing pack of Greg Van Avermaet, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Philippe Gilbert. Matthews timed his attack to perfection, averaging an impressive 27.3KMH in the final 500 metres. Froome dropped Aru on the final ramp, an attack that saw him move back in to the leader’s yellow jersey.
“It did help to know finish from two years ago, but I’m back in yellow because the team kept me at the front. Without their job, there’s no way I could keep my position. In the last 500m, I heard shouting in radio, ‘push, push, push’… It’s amazing to hear that. Every second here is worth fighting for. It is still so close.” source letour.com
Froome doesn’t need an invitation to snatch the advantage. It is now up to Fabio Aru and Astana to formulate a plan to overturn a 19-second deficit. Team Sky got their tactics right, that can’t be said for Astana.
Stage 15 takes the riders 189.5KM, from Laissac-Sévérac l’Église to Le Puy-en-Velay. The 8.9Km climb up the Col de Peyra Taillade peaks at 14%. The category one Col is one of four categorised climbs and comes after 158KM of racing.
2. Fabio Aru, 0.19
3. Romain Bardet, 0.23
4. Rigoberto Uran, 0.29
5. Mikel Landa, 1.17
2. Greg Van Avermaet
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen
4. Philippe Gilbert
5. Jay McCarthy