Team BikeExchange’s Michael Matthews has had one goal at this Tour de France, to win a stage, and so far he has had about as much success as he would in trying to catch an eel with his bare hands. Twice in the last week, Matthews, a former Green Jersey winner in 2017, had victory available on the line, only to be beaten on the line. Today, in the 14th stage of the Tour de France, he left nothing to chance.
As the breakaway groups — two sets with 30+ seconds between them — approached the finishing climb to Mende, Matthews launched from the front group, before some of the elite climbers behind could have a say in the action. Matthews dropped Louis Meintjes and Felix Grossschartner from the front group and got solidly away, only to be tracked down by EF’s Alberto Bettiol who had bridged up from behind, caught the leaders and then Matthews, and briefly put himself up the road ahead of the Australian. But Matthews hung on through double-digit gradients, never quite letting Bettiol off the hook, finally pulling back even again and passing Bettiol, who promptly gave out and left Matthews alone to celebrate the victory. It was his fourth ever stage win and first in five years.
Behind them, after a chaotic start to the stage which saw UAE’s Tadej Pogacar on the attack and Jumbo Visma briefly scrambling to keep their armada intact for overnight leader Jonas Vingegaard, things fell into a bit of a stalemate. Pogacar used the final climb of the day to probe Vingegaard for any sign of weakness, isolating him from his formidable team, but to no avail as the yellow jersey shadowed the white one all the way to the line. It was not for nothing, however, as the pair put 17 seconds into Geraint Thomas, third overall and a dangerous time triallist, and now Thomas is 21 seconds behind Pogacar for second place. Adam Yates and Romain Bardet also ceded a few additional seconds, and Meintjes catapulted himself up to seventh overall ahead of David Gaudu of FDJ.
Simon Geschke of Cofidis maintained his lead in the KOM jersey but was matched by Meintjes who now is stalking him in the competition with the Pyrenées to come.
Tomorrow’s stage continues through the Massif Central but with a descending trend to a flat finish, leading into the final rest day.
- Michael Matthews Team BikeExchange-Jayco, 04:30:53
- Alberto Bettiol EF Education-EasyPost+ 15
- Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ+ 34
- Marc Soler UAE Team Emirates+ 50
- Patrick Konrad BORA-hansgrohe+ 58
- Jakob Fuglsang Israel-Premier Tech+ 58
- Felix Großschartner BORA-hansgrohe+ 01:06
- Lennard Kämna BORA-hansgrohe+ 01:12
- Simon Geschke Cofidis+ 01:12
- Louis Meintjes Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert+ 01:12
- Jonas Vingegaard Jumbo-Visma, 55:31:01
- Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates, + 02:22
- Geraint Thomas INEOS Grenadiers+ 02:43
- Romain Bardet Team DSM+ 03:01
- Adam Yates INEOS Grenadiers+ 04:06
- Nairo Quintana Team Arkéa-Samsic+ 04:15
- Louis Meintjes Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert+ 04:24
- David Gaudu Groupama-FDJ+ 04:24
- Tom Pidcock INEOS Grenadiers+ 08:49
- Enric Mas Movistar Team+ 09:58
- Simon Geschke Cofidis, 46 points
- Louis Meintjes Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, 39
- Neilson Powless EF Education-EasyPost, 37
- Jonas Vingegaard Jumbo-Visma, 36
- Giulio Ciccone Trek-Segafredo, 35
Saint Étienne - Mende 192.5 km
Hello Côte de la Croix Neuve, Montée Laurent Jalabert - Aérodrome de Mende my old friend, we’ve come to talk with you again.
Ever so often we go via Mende on our road from Alps to Pyrenées (or vice versa) and the biting little climb, and the hard roads that lead to it, usually delivers good racing.
Expected finish: 17:05 - 17:35 CEST
Massif pilot of the Day : Bauke Mollema
How many times can I pick Bauke before it gets embarrassing for both of us?