Michael Matthews won his fourth stage of the Tour, his first since 2017.
- Reuters Mende (France)
- Last Updated: July 16, 2022, 22:42 IST
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Australian Michael Matthews completed a vintage ride to win the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, a hilly trek from Saint Etienne to Mende, as Jonas Vingegaard held off defending champion Tadej Pogacar to retain the yellow jersey.
Matthews went solo from the day’s breakaway with 51 kilometres to go, and after being caught by a trio of chasers he attacked again on the final ascent, a brutal 3-km effort at 10.2%. Alberto Bettiol managed to rein him in once more, only for Matthews to come back and go solo again to beat the Italian by 15 seconds. “Today was just pure fight. There are not many opportunities for riders like me. I had to get rid of the best climbers,” said Matthews, who claimed his fourth Tour stage win and his first since 2017.
Thibaut Pinot came home third as the race’s French riders continue to fight for their first stage win this year. Only twice in the history of the Tour de France have French riders failed to win a stage, in 1926 and 1999.
The group of top contenders was laggging far behind, and Pogacar again attacked in a bid to unsettle Vingegaard on the last climb, only for the Dane to follow easily and cross the line on the defending champion’s wheel.Pogacar had tried to shake things up before, 10 kilometres into the 192.5-km stage, splitting the bunch with an acceleration on a short hill. Vingegaard was briefly trapped behind but quickly came back after a big effort.
“I tried, and I will try again in the coming days,” Pogacar promised. “I tried to put the pressure from the start.”He still leads Pogacar by two minutes and 22 seconds overall, with Geraint Thomas in third place, 2:43 off the pace.
The 2018 champion was unable to follow Pogacar and Vingegaard on the Cote de la Croix Neuve but limited the damage, losing 17 seconds to the leading duo while extending his lead over fourth-placed Romain Bardet by nine seconds.
Sunday’s 15th stage is a 202.5-km ride from Rodez to Carcassonne before a rest day.