Matthews back contesting on stage 13 of Tour de FranceFri 17 Jul 2015
In a sight that everyone is happy to see again, multiple Giro d’Italia stage winner Michael Matthews has featured in the final kilometres of stage 13 at the Tour de France.
Uncharacteristically quiet as he recovered from a rib injury sustained in the first week of racing, the improvement in Matthews’ condition was enough to see ORICA-GreenEDGE commit Canadian Svein Tuft and British brothers Simon and Adam Yates to the chase in support of the 24-year-old.
As the race came into the final kilometre, the 2015 Paris-Nice green jersey winner was well positioned behind three breakaway survivors but despite battling bravely, lost touch up the steep incline to the line.
Greg van Avermat (BMC Racing) took the victory from the chase whilst Matthews rolled through for 18th position.
“I definitely got sick of being dropped each day,” Matthews said. “I thought today I would have a go at it.”
“I was positioned well and the team did a really good job in helping to bring the breakaway back, I just didn’t quite have the legs in the final few hundred metres.”
Sport director Matt White acknowledged the stage as a target for the Australian outfit and reiterated the team’s ambition.
“It was a perfect finish for a healthy Michael Matthews,” White said of today’s stage. “We still have goals for a stage win and that’s why we gave Michael the best opportunity we could today.”
“If your luck is going to turn around, you are the ones that have to do it.
“We are not hear to capitalise off anyone else, we had a goal today and that was to support Michael as well as we could and we committed to that plan.”
How it unfolded
On what was a day that many predicted could suit another breakaway winner, six riders rode off the front without too much resistance at the beginning of racing.
It was once they established that the resistance began and largely thanks to the efforts of Giant Alpecin keeping the pace at the head of the peloton, the advantage remained around the four-minute mark.
Tinkoff-Saxo joined the chase and with around 40km to go, ORICA-GreenEDGE also contributed Tuft and then the Yates brothers to the efforts.
As their advantage dropped, the break turned on each other in the final 20km. Three survived, barely, inside the final kilometre only to be swept up in the steep rise to the line.
Tomorrow’ stage 14 features another short steep finish – like the Mur de Huy and Muy de Bretagne, only a little tougher. Potentially even more defining is the undulating start, long descent and 80km flat mid-section. These are the ingredients of a breakaway recipe.