Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome reclaims race lead as Michael Matthews wins stage 14

Fabio Aru cracks on uphill finish into Rodez after Australian outsprints Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) outsprinted Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) to win stage 14 of the 2017 Tour de France as Chris Froome (Team Sky) reclaimed the yellow jersey.

On the uphill finish into Rodez, Matthews finished off a fine team effort – Team Sunweb and BMC Racing having led the bunch all day – to grab his first stage win of this year’s race.

Froome, meanwhile, finished in seventh place as he distanced Fabio Aru (Astana) on the final climb to reclaim the race lead.

The Team Sky now leads by 19 seconds overall, with Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) a further four seconds back in third.

White jersey Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) was also one of the big winners on the day, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates), and the Bury-born rider now leads the youth classification by more than three minutes.

Michael Matthews celebrates outsprinting Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) to win stage 14 of the 2017 Tour de France (pic – Sirotti)

On a stage with potential to favour the breakaway, it was perhaps little surprise to see Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) attacking from the flag.

Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro) joined them in the move, and the peloton were happy to let them go.

Reto Hollenstein (Katusha-Alpecin) counter-attacked, but BMC Racing and Team Sunweb – leading the bunch – were again content to let him go.

While happy to let them go, the peloton did keep them under close control, however, with van Avermaet and Matthews harbouring hopes of a stage win.

The gap hovered around the two-minute mark through much of the stage, including as green jersey Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) gained an extra point on Matthews at the intermediate sprint.

Kittel was dropped on the first categorised climb, however, which De Gendt led the way over the top, and only the Belgian and Voeckler remained up the road as they reached the Cote de Contres.

De Gendt pushed on alone with 32km to race, and still held a minute’s lead with 21km to go, but the speed in the peloton remained high and less than 10km it was over for the Belgian.

That laid the platform for more attacks off the front, and Maurits Lammertink (Katusha-Alpecin) earned a gap, but he had Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) and Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) as passengers, unwilling to take a pull.

Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) bridged across to give the break some impetus, however, as Dimension Data and Team Sky took over on the peloton.

Lammertink and Perichon’s efforts came to nothing, however, as the race exploded into action on the final climb with Belgian champion Olivier Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep Floors) the first to take up the sprint.

Neither had the legs to make their long-range efforts last, however, as Matthews and Van Avermaet went wheel-to-wheel.

Matthews took the momentum out of the final bend, however, to get in front of the Belgian and sprint to victory – making it two from two for Team Sunweb after Warren Barguil’s stage win on Bastille Day.

Chris Froome is back in the yellow jersey with less than 30 seconds between the top four overall (pic: Sirotti)

And the Australian said: “I think it was as expected. Last time we finished here two years ago, I had four broken ribs – it was a stage I was really targeting before I crashed. But to come back here, and to win it like that, really is a dream come true.”

Further back, Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished seventh, just one second back, as Sky’s efforts heading into the climb paid dividends.

Aru, without the team around him to keep him up front, could not match the pace and his gap was 25 seconds at the finish as time gaps opened up throughout the peloton.

Meintjes was also in Aru’s group, and with Yates finishing 13th – 20 seconds ahead – it proved a good day all-round for the two British GC hopefuls.

Tour de France 2017: stage 14 – result

1) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Team Sunweb – 4.21.56hrs
2) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing – ST
3) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Dimension Data +1”
4) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – QuickStep Floors – ST
5) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Bora-Hansgrohe
6) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida
7) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
8) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors
9) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac
10) Tiesj Benoot (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal +5”

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 59.52.09hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +19”
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +23”
4) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +29”
5) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +1.17
6) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +1.26
7) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +2.02
8) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +2.22
9) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +5.09
10) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +5.37

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