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The day most Australians have been waiting for, an outstanding win for Michael Matthews and two Aussies in the top 10… the perfect Stage all-round.
Stage 14 always loomed as the perfect finish for Matthews, a climb to the finish line where most of the strong men would still be left to battle it out including the current Olympic road champion, BMC Racings’ Greg Van Avermaet and Quick- Step Floorings’ Phillipe Gilbert.
It was Gilbert who lead the final charge towards the finish line and with no more than 400 metres to go both Van Avermaet and Matthews were going toe to toe towards the final line. Van Avermaet was the first to crack as Matthews applied the power to pull away and take a long-awaited win.
Matthews has been the runner up to the current Green Jersey wearer Marcel Kittel during this year’s race but when Kittel couldn’t go with the peloton with 20 km’s to race, the focus went over to the Australian who had pencilled this stage in as a possibility for victory when the course was released earlier this year.
Another Australian, Jay McCarthy (Bora Hansgrohe) also had a stage to remember, finishing fifth just behind Gilbert. McCarthy has stepped up in the racks as one of the team’s key sprinters when his team leader, World Champion Peter Sagan was expelled from the tour after stage four.
Team Sky’s leader, Chris Froome used the stage to regain the Yellow Jersey as the Astana rider, Fabio Aru faltered on the last climb giving away 24 seconds to Froome and in-turn passing over the Yellow Jersey. Froome now leads the tour by 18 seconds over Aru with Frenchman, Romain Bardot (AG2R La Mondial) back in third place a further 5 seconds behind Aru.
Stage 15 looks to be a stage that could again mix up the General Classification as it starts and finishes with two first category climbs which in-turn could harm the chances of Fabio Aru. Aru looked to be the rider lacking team support on stage 14 and with Bardot riding into form things could find themselves turned around in the GC top 10 list.
Without the aggressive mountain top finishes also keep an eye on Cannondale-Drapac rider Rigoberto Uran to also to feature towards the finish of the stage. Uran has been present throughout the tour but seems to ride under the radar of the main rivals only popping up at the crunch time of each stage, Uran is a real chance to move up into a top 3 GC position if he plays his cards right this evening.
Other Stage 14 results
1st. Michael Matthews – Team Sunweb
- Jay McCarthy – Bora Hansgrohe @ .01
- Simon Clarke – Cannondale – Drapac @ .12
- George Bennett NZ – Lotto NI-Jumbo @ .22
- Dion Smith NZ – Wanty Groupe Gobert @ .52
- Adam Hansen – Lotto Soudal @.52
- Jack Bauer NZ – Quick-Step Flooring @2.18
- Patrick Bevin NZ – Cannondale – Drapac @ 13.17
- Damien Howson – Orica Scott @13.17
- Mathew Hayman – Orica Scott @13.17