Another bittersweet second place finish for Matthews on stage eight of the Tour de France

Stage six runner up Michael Matthews took another agonising second place finish on stage eight of the Tour de France today for Team BikeExchange-Jayco after once again showing impressive form to be in the mix on the punchy uphill finish in Lausanne.

The Australian dug deep to stay in contention on the 5km ascent to the line, with only green jersey wearer Wout van Aert able to get the better of him in the reduced bunch kick for the win.

The Australian outfit took responsibility of the stage as soon as a three-rider breakaway eventually broke the elastic and headed down the road. Chris Juul-Jensen then came to the head of the bunch to set the tempo and keep the gap to the escapees at a manageable distance.

As the race passed over the penultimate climb of the day, the break still held a healthy advantage, but the gap quickly started to plummet when Luke Durbridge moved to the head of the pack and increased the pace again.

Just one rider remained out front as the peloton raced into the foot of the final climb to the finish, with Jack Bauer and Luka Mezgec working hard to guide Matthews into a good position. Nick Schultz then took over on the climb, before swinging off after dropping off his teammate amongst his rivals to battle for the stage win.

With the last rider caught with 3.5km to go, it was then a waiting game as the bunch whittled down and the finish line edged closer. Matthews was the first rider to open up the sprint with 150 metres to go, but despite a fierce kick, it wasn’t enough to hold off Van Aert on the line and the 31-year-old had to settle for another bittersweet second place.

Michael Matthews (2nd)
“I learnt from two days ago that I really need to start my sprint first, I gave it a shot from the front and started my sprint first but just got beaten by Wout [Van Aert] on the line. I honestly don’t think I made a mistake today, I did everything I could, there was just a stronger rider in the bike race today, so I wouldn’t take anything back.

I think it was around 200m to go, it looked like a lot of guys, Tadej [Pogacar] and Wout were boxed on the left a little bit, so I was hoping I could get a little bit of a jump, but I just wasn’t quick enough.

I did my best, the team rode a great race to lead me to where I needed to be, and it’s second again, hopefully I’m knocking on the door of that win.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director
“The boys rode very well today, we wanted to give Michael the best chance of winning and it was a real team effort from everyone across the board there to give him the best chance for a result and we have to walk away proud of that ride.
Wout van Aert is a very special athlete, we gave it our best and that is all you can do, but we are not finished yet.”

2022 Tour de France Stage 8 – Results:
1. Wout van Aert 4:13:06
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) ST
3. Tadej Pogacar ST

Photo: Getty Sport