It has been a long time coming for Michael Matthews, 5 years since his last Tour de France victory. That year, ‘Blng’ Matthews won 2 stages and the green jersey but hasn’t quite hit the same heights at Grand Tours since. It was a great return to that form of old, winning from a large breakaway.
A large group went clear from the peloton and the bunch was happy to let them have their day. From that group, Matthews attacked solo with 51km left to race and was bridged across by 3 riders. The final climb of the day was a brutal 3kms at 10.2% that really showed off Matthews’ puncheur skills. Alberto Bettiol reeled him in repeatedly but was unable to land the killer blow on the Australian. 15 seconds was the gap between the pair at the line.
Thibaut Pinot finished 3rd as the drought of French victories at this year’s Tour de France continued. The last time an entire Tour saw no French winner was the 1999 Tour de France. The French press is starting to turn pessimistic, a regional newspaper coining the phrase “Blue, Blanc, Lose”, a play on the French tri-colour using lose instead of Rouge.
With the peloton far behind, a GC battle took place between the race favourites on the final climb. Tadej Pogacar tried to create some distance and regain some time back on Dane Jonas Vingegaard. The pair were stuck together though and the race situation stays the same.
The other GC contenders were gapped a bit though. Geraint Thomas lost a handful of seconds but remains 3rd overall. The Welshman is now 17 seconds further back from Tadej Pogacar but 9 seconds further ahead of Romain Bardet in 4th.
Sunday’s 15th stage is a 202.5-km ride from Rodez to Carcassonne before a rest day on Monday.