Matthews & Simon Yates try their luck in stage 18 break at Le Tour de FranceThu 23 Jul 2015
Considering where they have come from this Tour de France, it was particularly pleasing for ORICA-GreenEDGE to see Simon Yates and Michael Matthews in the main break on stage 18 in the Alps today.
Matthews, who suffered broken ribs in a stage three crash, has been growing in strength and confidence every day whilst Yates is still overcoming the affects of Bronchitis that hinder any excessive output of effort.
Regardless, the pair made their way into a big group of 29 riders that established in the first 15km of the 186.5km stage from Gap to Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne and remained in contention well into the second half of racing.
Matthews, the sprint classification winner at Paris-Nice earlier in the year, lost contact at the lower inclines of the hors category Col du Glandon.
Yates lost contact shortly after but managed to ride himself back into the group on the same climb before eventually the elastic snapped around five kilometres from its peak.
“It was always going to be hard to win the stage today but for those guys to recover from what they have and give themselves a chance, it’s a good sign,” sport director Matt White said.
“Michael lost contact in the first five kilometres of the climb and Simon fought on really hard, he pushed his limits as much as he could.”
White said the Australian team would recover tonight and then look to fight on in another break over the last two mountain stages.
“We have two more chances in the mountains,” White said. “Adam (Yates) had an easier day today so for sure we will cut him loose in the next 48hours.”
“Simon might have to wait another day to recover and go for the Alp d’Huez stage.”
How it unfolded
Over the first 15km, a strong group of 29 riders formed ahead of the peloton to take on the seven climbs of stage 18 – the most of any stage of the 2015 Tour de France.
Aside from a couple of small moves off the front, the group stayed predominately together until the early stages of the hors category Col du Glandon.
There, 11 riders moved away leaving the rest to battle on behind. Bardet attacked the group and held a lead over the summit, continuing on alone to take a solo victory 33seconds ahead of Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
Behind, the general classification contenders again tried to target Chris Froome (Team Sky) with a series of attacks, but couldn’t take any time off the race leader’s advantage.