Australian sprinter Michael Matthews looked to go one better than the opening stage of the Tour de France where he picked up second place, as he battled his way through a thrilling finale on today’s fourth stage, to take a strong fourth place on the line after a late solo escapee was caught nail-bitingly close, inside the last 50metres, with Mark Cavendish claiming the victory.
Like all previous sprint stages, the final was fast, frantic, and chaotic with every team fighting to position their sprinter at the front and keep their GC leaders out of trouble. Slovenian rider Luka Mezgec worked to position Matthews in the final kilometres as the pace picked up, with it looking uncertain as to whether the lone leader could hold off the peloton.
Scrapping for the best route to the finish line, Matthews launched out of the wheels and took a strong fourth place, which moves him up to third overall in the points classification standings after also picking up fourth place in the day’s intermediate sprint.
The team’s climbers all remained safe and survived the stage without any problems with Esteban Chaves currently the highest on the GC for the squad in 15 place at 52 seconds. Attention now turns to tomorrow’s first test for the classification race with the first individual time trial of this year’s tour.
Michael Matthews – 4th place
“That was like every other Tour de France sprint; hectic. With the resources we had there with just me and Luka Mezgec in the final, we had to wait and then make a run at the end. Luka did a great job positioning me in the final there and I finished fourth. Of course I came to win, but I have to be satisfied with fourth place today.”
Matt White – Head Sport Director
“It was a good sprint, a sprint that suited Michael’s characteristics more than a plain flat sprint. He took fourth place on the stage so it was a good result and we have also moved up to third place in the green jersey competition ahead of a well-deserved rest day for some tomorrow on the TT Day.”
“It will be nice tomorrow not to have 180 riders around me, my TT hasn’t been great this year but it is a big part of this tour so all I can do is put my best effort in and see what I can do. Then on the other side of it we are getting closer and closer to the mountains which I am really looking forward to.”
2021 Tour de France – Stage 4 results:
1. Mark Cavendish 3:20:17
2. Nacer Bouhanni ST
3. Jasper Philipsen ST
4. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) ST
General Classification result after stage 4:
1. Mathieu van der Poel 16:19:10
2. Julian Alaphilippe +0:08
3. Richard Carapaz +0:31
15. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +0:52
Photo courtesy of Getty Images