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Sunday, July 17, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall. - Mitch Hedberg

Tour de France: 2019

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2019: A Year of New Faces is available in both Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage fourteen reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here’s the report from stage winner Michael Matthews’ Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Australian Michael Matthews put on a career best performance today with a breakaway masterclass, to claim his fourth Tour de France stage victory on stage 14 in Mende.

Michael Matthews wins stage 14. Sirotti photo.

The victory hands Team BikeExchange-Jayco their second stage win of the Tour after Dylan Groenewegen’s sprint success on stage three, with Matthews showing his grit and determination to bounce back after two painfully tight second place finishes already in the race.

Matthews' success came after he infiltrated a large 23 rider breakaway that eventually broke away after a furious start, and with the advantage rolling out to over 10 minutes, it was clear the stage would be decided amongst those in the breakaway.

Over the hilly terrain the attacks started, with Matthews alert to the danger, following a series of moves, before launching his own assault with more than 50km remaining.

The Australian quickly opened up a gap of 20 seconds as the group stalled behind, with three riders eventually bridging across and providing welcomed firepower at the head of the race.

The leaders eventually reached the foot of the final climb with a slender advantage and the deficit continued to fall as Matthews edged away solo on the lower slopes of the steep 2.9km ascent. However, it looked like the dream was over as Alberto Bettiol caught and passed Matthews as the summit approached, but the Team BikeExchange-Jayco rider wasn’t giving in that easily.

After losing the wheel of Bettiol, Matthews dug deep and hauled his way back up to the Italian before accelerating away over the top of the climb. With a decisive gap opened up, Matthews had time to soak up the atmosphere and savour his first Tour stage win in five years.

Michael Matthews (1st place):
"I think this is pretty much the story of my career. I’ve had so many rollercoasters, ups and downs. How many times I’ve been smashed down, to all the time get back up, this was for my daughter today.

"I think I just wanted to show everyone that I’m not just a sprinter, I can also ride like a rodie today and I was just thinking of my daughter on that final climb, all the way up to the finish, and my wife, how much sacrifice they make for me to make my dreams come true, hopefully today, I showed them the reason why we sacrifice so much.

"After yesterday, I think that was a big opportunity missed. Yesterday was a really good stage for me, this three day block, from yesterday until tomorrow was what our team was aiming for in the second week.

"Today, I just knew this would probably be my last chance. Into Lausanne was a big opportunity, I came up second, then I was second to Tadej, second best again, so it is extra special to get the victory today."

Matt White - Head Sport Director:
Today was very special on a few fronts firstly, things didn’t go as planned yesterday so we had to turn things around and turn things around quickly. What does it mean after three second places, I think for Matthews it is the most impressive ride of his career.

"He has changed over the years; he is a different rider to what he was four or five years ago but what he has become is a lot more robust and his ability to climb has obviously improved, but he has still got that snap there.

"He has some close run-ins early in the race and to get that monkey off his back, third time trying, we are all very proud of it. But, we are not content, we will continue aiming for victory from now all the way to Paris.”

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Here’s the report from GC leader Jonas Vingegaard’s Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has repelled attacks on his yellow jersey. In the fourteenth stage to Mende, Tafej Pogacar tested Vingegaard, but the Team Jumbo-Visma rider resisted well and finished together with the Slovenian. The breakaway riders battled for the win and Michael Matthews proved the strongest.

The beginning and the end of the fourteenth stage were tricky. Immediately after the start, the pace was high. Pogacar tried to take advantage of the chaotic situation and attacked on the day's first climb. Vingegaard and Wout van Aert reacted attentively. “There were many attacks, also from riders who are still among the first the general classification”, Van Aert said. “They tried to sneak into the leading group. That made it hard to keep control, and I thought it was better to be there. Pogacar was immediately in my wheel, so I changed position and waited for my teammates to return. Eventually, a big break emerged, and we had to work hard to defend the yellow jersey.”

Sepp Kuss on the Côte de la Croix Neuve - Monteé Jalabert. Sirotti photo

Leading up to the steep Côte de la Croix Neuve Monteé Jalabert, Van Aert and Sepp Kuss stepped up the pace before Pogacar attacked again. Vingegaard immediately countered and stayed in his wheel until the finish. “Pogacar rode a strong pace”, the 25-year-old Dane said. “It was a tough climb, and I expected him to attack, so I’m glad I could follow him. I was a bit too far back when Pogacar attacked at the beginning, but luckily I could close that gap quickly. The team rode a strong stage again and we will continue to fight. We will take it from day to day.”

Sports director Frans Maassen was satisfied with today’s race. “It was a very tough stage. We knew we had to work hard, but we didn’t expect Pogacar to jump at the beginning. We had five riders in the group and took control. Ultimately, we needed to fight at the front and the back. I think Jonas and Pogacar were at their limit on the last climb. They appear to be evenly matched, but Jonas looked strong. It was a good day for us.”

Van Aert looked ahead to tomorrow’s stage. “I expect another tough stage because in France, the roads go up and down all the time. It will be even hotter than today. Yesterday we saw a bunch sprint is not always the outcome, but I feel good. We’ll see if I get a chance tomorrow.”

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Here's the report from Tadej Pogačar's UAE Team Emirates:

It was a stage for the breakaway of no less than 23, who went away after 49 km of the race and reached an advantage of almost 15 min.

The breakaway , among which Marc Soler was also present, worked their way through the two 3rd category GPMs placed in the second half of the route and the demanding final steep climb of 3 km which saw Michael Matthews (BikeExchange- Jayco) to take the win from Alberto Bettiol (Ef Education-EasyPost), with Soler 4th at 50″.

On the ascent towards Mende, Pogačar launched his attack which only the yellow jersey Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) able to stay with the Slovenian of UAE Team Emirates and the duo reached the finish line with a gap of 12’34” from the winner.

Pogačar tries to drop Vingegaard on the climb to Mende. Sirotti photo

In the overall standings, Pogačar follows Vingegaard at 2’22”, while the lead over Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) has widened by 17" and is now 21".

Soler: “The day was challenging, also due to the intense heat. I tackled the last ascent at my own pace, to avoid going over the top immediately, and I found a good pace. I tried to get back to the leading duo, but I didn’t succeed and in the end Pinot overtook me.”

Pogačar: “Today’s stage has was a positive one: my legs were good and my teammates worked hard, these factors give me confidence to be proactive for the rest of the Tour”.

The 15th stage will start from Rodez and will end after 202.5 km in Carcassonne.

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Here’s the report from Geraint Thomas & Adam Yates’ Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates battled hard to retain their top-five overall placings on another sweltering day at the Tour de France.

Stage 14 culminated in a punishing final climb in Mende, with Thomas and Yates setting their own tempo as Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and the yellow jersey of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) pushed on up the road.

Thomas sprinted in, dropping just 17 seconds to the duo and taking 11 seconds on nearest rival Romain Bardet (Team DSM). Yates finished shortly after, with the pair retaining third and fifth overall after working well together in the closing stages.

Adam Yates leads Geraint Thomas on the Côte de la Croix Neuve. Sirotti photo

Tom Pidcock limited his losses well to remain in the top 10 on GC, now ninth after a day that saw a large breakaway go to the finish.

During a brutal opening salvo Dani Martinez rode well to get into the large 23-man move, showing promising progress as he continues to recover from illness. In the end the Colombian would come home 17th, with Michael Matthew (Team BikeExchange) taking an impressive win after he attacked the group from range.

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