Matthews places 11th in fast and aggressive finish to stage six of the Tour de FranceThu 7 Jul 2016
Michael Matthews gave it his all against the world’s best sprinters on stage six of the Tour de France today, finishing in 11th place for ORICA-BikeExchange in a fast and energetic finale.
2016 Paris-Roubaix champion Mathew Hayman brought Matthews safely into the final three kilometres through the crowded and marauding peloton before peeling off with less than two kilometres to go.
The speed increased dramatically over the last few hundred metres with Matthews forced wide to try and break clear behind the big guns of the sprint world.
The stage was won by Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) with Matthews finishing just outside the top ten in 11th place.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) retains the race leaders yellow jersey and Adam Yates reamains ORICA-BikeExchange’s best placed rider in 13th.
Sport director Matt White was content at the finish with the main objective for the team to get through the stage in good order ahead of the coming mountain stages.
“Our main goal for today was to come through the stage unscathed and in good condition,” said White. “We have a big three days ahead as the race goes into the Pyrenees and hits the real mountains for the first time.”
“The team rode sensibly throughout the stage and we never strayed too far from the job in hand.
“Today was the last stage for the pure sprinters until the race reaches Montpellier and it was always going to be a difficult task against the worlds fastest men. Michael (Matthews) did well to maintain his position for the finale and boxed on in the bunch sprint.”
How it happened:
The sun was beating down at the start of stage six in Arpajon-sur-Cere this morning and after ten kilometres of racing two riders skipped away and were allowed to develop an immediate advantage.
Jan Barta (Bora-Argon18) and Yukiya Ashiro (Lampre-Merida) were the two riders involved in the early attack and after 20kilometres they had a developing lead of five minutes.
Blazing sunshine and 30 degree heat was the order of the day with both peloton and breakaway struggling in the close heat.
After 100kilometres the duo out front had three and a half minutes on the peloton who were beginning to up the ante of the chase.
The rolling roads continued into the last 60kilometres with the peloton now somewhat strung out behind BMC and the gap to the two leaders less than two minutes.
Direct-Energie took over the work at the head of the peloton with 30kilometres to go with the clear intention of setting up their sprinter Bryan Coquard, only 30seconds now separated the field.
Just inside the final 20kilometres and the Barta duo were caught, a determined chase by Direct-Energie set the tempo for the finale as the other sprinters team began to move up.
The peloton filled the road and was completely congested as numerous teams fought for position approaching the last couple of kilometres.
Hayman pulled off for ORICA-BikeExchange with two kilometres to go as Matthews jumped to the wheel of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and fought hard to hold position.
The sprint unfolded aggressively with the big guns taking control, Cavenidish edged out Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) on the line to take the victory in the third photo finish of this year's Tour.
Matthews finished in 11th place after another great effort trying to match the world’s best pure sprinters.
Tomorrow's stage seven covers 162.5 kilometres and includes the first catgeory one climb of this years Tour de France, the Col d'Aspin. Coming right at the end of the stage, the twelve kilometre climb has an average gradient of 6.5% and first appeared in the Tour in 1910. The climb is part of the French Pyrenees and has been included 71 times over the last 106 years.
Tour de France stage six results:
1. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) 04:43:48
2. Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) ST
3. Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital-Concept) ST
11. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST
General classification after stage six:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 30:18:39
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:05:13
3. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:05:17
4. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:05:17