Froome amazed with yellow as Matthews wins stage

Chris Froome admitted he hadn't expected to be back in yellow on Saturday after Australian Michael Matthews won the Tour de France's 14th stage.

Froome amazed with yellow as Matthews wins stage
Great Britain's Christopher Froome celebrates his overall leader yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the 181,5 km fourteenth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July
Froome had kept at the front of the bunch on a speedy downhill section over the final 10km before finding himself ideally placed to attack the 600-metres uphill finale. And it proved to be a great day as he took back the yellow jersey from
Italian Fabio Aru.
“It's good to be back (in yellow) and really unexpected. It's such an amazing feeling after a tough day in the Pyrenees (on Thursday) to get it back,” said Froome, the reigning champion.
“It definitely was not the plan to lose the jersey and I definitely didn't expect to be back in the yellow jersey after today's stage.
“I knew the final would be selective but I didn't expect to be taking these time margins from my rivals.”
Froome finished seventh, one second behind Matthews but four seconds ahead of Romain Bardet and Simon Yates, 21 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana and 24 seconds clear of Aru.
Only Dan Martin and Rigoberto Uran of the top 10 finished alongside Froome, in eighth and ninth respectively. Froome now leads Aru by 18 seconds, the exact same lead he'd enjoyed over the Italian before cracking on the brutally steep uphill finish to Thursday's Pyrenean mountain stage when he finished 22 seconds behind stage winner Bardet.
'Absolutely shocked'
“I am absolutely shocked to see the same kind of time gaps today as we saw in the Pyrenees on that stage when I had a tough day,” added the three-time Tour winner.
“I just didn't have the legs on that day. I'd like to think I've bounced back and recovered. After two consecutive hard days, that's where it brings out the stage racer in people and just exactly where everyone's at.”
The top 10 are still bunched closer together than they were before the Pyrenees despite Froome's gains, with Bardet third at 23sec, Uran fourth at 29sec, Spaniard Mikel Landa fifth at 1:17, and Martin sixth at 1:26.
Since Froome previously held the yellow jersey, both Bardet and Uran have closed in by almost 30sec while Martin has gained just over 20sec.
Landa has taken back even more time but is Froome's Sky team-mate and riding for his leader rather than his own ambitions.
Froome's gains were all down to experience and good positioning in the final hectic kilometres. And he said that was down to his team.
“Thanks to my team-mates for staying at the front in the end,” said Froome.
“Michal Kwiatkowski did great work at the end there and I have to thank him for retaking the jersey.”
Aru was caught out near the back of the reduced peloton in that period and couldn't make his way through the bunch, meaning he started the final climb too far back.
His Astana sports director Dmitry Fofonov said he'd paid for his efforts over the previous two days in claiming and then defending the yellow jersey in the high mountains, and for the weakness of his team in comparison to Froome's.
“On a stage like this you don't expect to lose time,” said Fofonov. “He paid for his efforts yesterday when he was on his own covering attacks.”
'It came true'
Earlier in the day a five-man breakaway went clear but splintered on the undulating 181.5km course from Blagnac to Rodez.
Only Belgian Thomas De Gendt remained with 30km left but he was caught by the peloton 12.5km from the end. Dutchman Maurits Lammertink then had a dig on his own but couldn't make it stick either.
When it came to the sprint, Belgian former world champion Philippe Gilbert led the way but he was overtaken by Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet and then Matthews.
The Australian comfortably won ahead of Belgian Van Avermaet with Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen third.
“I targeted this stage from the beginning of the year, I've been gearing my efforts around that finish and it came true,” said Matthews.


Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.