Aussie Focus

Matthews battles to third as he vows to keep fighting for stage wins

Australian Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) put in another spirited effort throughout the mountainous stage 16 of the Tour de France, but had to settle for third as a stage win continues to elude him.

Matthews managed to get in the early breakaway and remained in the mix at the front with teammate Chris Juul-Jensen, but couldn't stay with stage winner Patrick Konrad (BORA-Hansgrohe) and was outsprinted for second by rival Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious).

He did gain valuable green jersey points in the intermediate sprint where he beat Colbrelli for fourth place, but still sits 37 points off leader Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) with further opportunities to make up that deficit at a premium as the Tour approaches its end.

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The 30-year-old was satisfied with his own efforts but revealed his fitness wasn't quite at the level he was hoping on the challenging climbs of the Col de la Core and Col de Portet-d'Aspet where Konrad shone.

“I think I did everything I could today," Matthews said after the stage.

"I used a lot of energy to try and get into the breakaway and ended up there. Got some good intermediate points in the sprint and from then on it was just try to survive until the finish.

"I didn’t have as good a legs as I would have liked to have today on the climbs, but I managed to get over with the bunch. I think all in all it was a pretty good day. We came here for stage wins and haven’t achieved that yet, so we’ll continue to fight for it.

"(Konrad) was in our bunch of eight riders and I had Chris (Juul-Jensen) in the front with a group of three. When he rode across to Chris' group I was pretty okay with that, having Chris in a group of four with me behind.

"But I guess we underestimated how strong he was feeling on the day. I wouldn't have been able to go with him anyway."

A tough day of racing was again made tougher with cold, wet and windy weather throughout, which fortunately proved not much of an issue for Matthews, contrary to some of the other riders as he talked through the chilly start to the stage.

“It was a strange start," he said. "We had that 19 kilometre neutral zone on the downhill which was a lot colder than we all thought.

"So we all went back to the cars and got changed after that, then it started pissing down rain. It was on and off rain all day, really windy and really cold, but I think I deal with those conditions pretty well."

Stage 17 of the Tour de France looms as another huge test for the riders with two category 1 climbs before a brutal summit finish atop the Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet. Coverage starts from 7:45pm AEST on the SKODA Tour Tracker and 8:30pm AEST on SBS and SBS On Demand. 


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3 min read
Published 14 July 2021 at 4:11am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS