MENDE, France (AP) — Michael Matthews soloed to victory on the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday when defending champion Tadej Pogacar tried in vain to regain time on leader Jonas Vingegaard.
Matthews’ fourth stage win came five years after the Australian last tasted victory in France.
The one-day classic specialist was in a group of 23 riders who broke from the pack after a frenetic start to the stage punctuated by a flurry of attacks on hilly ground from Saint-Etienne to Mende.
After spending the day at the front of the race, Matthews looked like he was about to crack when he was caught by Italian Alberto Bettiol on the last climb, but his grit helped him stay in contention and launch a counterattack that paid off.
“Matthews put on a show. He has days like that when he is very strong,” said French rider Thibaut Pinot, who completed the stage podium behind Matthews and Bettiol. “He really amazes me. Doing the sprints he does, and climbing like he does, in his field he is the best.”
With its constant ups and downs, the stage profile through the Massif Central was ideal for a breakaway. Not surprisingly, many riders with no personal ambition in the general classification were on the attack from the off to tear apart the peloton.
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