Australian sprinter Michael Matthews took 8th place after avoiding two big crashes in the closing metres of the Tour de France’s 4th stage into Vittel. A chaotic finish played havoc to Team Sunweb’s lead-out train, but Matthews was able to salvage a top-10 finish.
The hectic final contrasted strongly with the rest of the stage, which saw a lone rider jump clear of the peloton as soon as the flag dropped in Mondorf-les-Bains. He was left out front for nearly 200 kilometres as the peloton rode a mostly relaxed stage, allowing the escapee a gap of thirteen minutes at most. Experienced rider Simon Geschke kept an eye on proceedings at the front, sharing the chasing with the other sprinters’ teams.
As the race approached the finishing town Vittel, various lead-out trains were constantly jostling for position at the front, including the black and white Team Sunweb train. Things were looking good for Michael, as he was well positioned for the slightly uphill sprint, however a crash in the final five hundred metres derailed the team’s chances of victory. Fortunately, the punchy sprinter was able to adapt to the fast-paced finale in order to secure 8th place on Stage 4.
Team Sunweb move into stage 5 with two riders in the top 10 overall – Michael sits in 3rd, whilst Nikias Arndt is 10th.
Team Sunweb Coach Aike Visbeek gave his thoughts on the stage: “It was a relatively easy day in the bunch but then a hectic and dangerous final. The guys were all together with 2km to go, but the big crash spoiled a good leadout. It was a disappointing outcome because of the incidents in the finale and but hope to get another chance tomorrow.”
Michael Matthews added: “It was an extremely chaotic final today. In the end I was happy to stay upright and look forward to the chances to come.”
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