Australian Michael Matthews completed a vintage race to win the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, a hilly trek from Saint Etienne to Mende, as Jonas Vingaard held off defending champion Tadej Pogacar to retain the yellow jersey.
Matthews started solo from the day’s breakaway with 51 kilometers to go, and after being caught by a trio of pursuers, he attacked again on the final climb, a brutal 3 km effort at 10.2% .
Alberto Bettiol managed to overpower him once again, only for Matthews to come back and go solo to beat the Italian by 15 seconds.
Thibaut Pinot came third as the French riders in the race continue to fight for their first stage victory this year.
The group of top contenders were far behind and Pogacar attacked again in a bid to unsettle Vingaard on the final climb, only for the Dane to follow easily and cross the line on the defending champion’s wheel.
Pogacar had tried to shake things up before, 10 kilometers into the 192.5 km stage, separating the peloton with acceleration on a short climb.
Vingeaard was briefly stuck behind but quickly came back after a big effort.
He still leads Pogacar by two minutes and 22 seconds in total, with Geraint Thomas in third place, 2:43 off the pace.
The 2018 champion couldn’t keep up with Pogacar and Vingaard on the Côte de la Croix Neuve but limited the damage, losing 17 seconds to the leading duo while extending their lead over fourth-placed Romain Bardet by nine seconds.
Sunday’s 15th stage is a 202.5km race from Rodez to Carcassonne before a rest day.