30-year-old Australian Michael Matthews sprinted to his third top-10 finish of this year’s Tour de France with ninth place in a fast and hectic finish to stage six.
The stage always looked set for a routine sprint day, but a group of eight riders had different ideas as they attacked away from the peloton at kilometre zero. However, with a number of teams unhappy with the composition of the escapees, the move was eventually hauled back and just two riders were allowed up the road.
The peloton made no mistake in bringing the duo back in the closing kilometres as the sprint teams teed it up for another sprint finish into Châteauroux. Matthews surfed the wheels in the finale but was boxed in slightly for the dash for the line, finishing in ninth place behind stage winner Mark Cavendish.
“Today was never really going to suit me that well, a pure flat sprint with 1.5km straight to the finish and it was always going to be difficult without a lead-out train and not being the fastest guy here, but we gave it a crack.
Unfortunately, all three of us that were doing the lead-out/ sprint got caught behind a crash with 3km to go on a roundabout. We got really pushed back and once we got back going, I was around 60th in the bunch. We all lost each other so I just tried to make up as many places as I could to try and get back to the front. I got back there, I tried to do a sprint but didn’t have much left so not a great day, but we will try again tomorrow.”
Matt White – Head Sport Director
“The stage was short and fast. There was an interesting break at the start of the day, which could have affected the yellow jersey, so it made for a very fast 30 or 40 kilometres until that break was reeled in.
Then it was pretty straight forward, the course was pretty uncomplicated today, so we saw a very, very fast run in.
In the green jersey competition we’ve lost a considerable amount of points to Mark Cavendish, but it’s all very tight in second, third and fourth place as we approach the mountains.
Tomorrow is the longest stage of the Tour, 245 kilometres, and it’s a pretty tough final, so it’s not a day for the pure sprinters.”
2021 Tour de France – Stage 6 Results:
1. Mark Cavendish 3:17:36
2. Jasper Philipsen ST
3. Nacer Bouhanni ST
9. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) ST
General Classification result after stage 6:
1. Mathieu van der Poel 20:09:17
2. Tadej Pogacar +0:08
3. Wout van Aert +0:30
22. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +3:24
Photo courtesy of Getty Images