Race report

Michael Matthews takes great 2nd place in difficult uphill finale

Tour de France

Awaiting the riders on the third day of racing at the Tour de France was a teasing profile. With a parcours backloaded with climbs, the route would not have looked out of place as a hilly spring classic.

Once out of the neutralised zone there were several attacks before a break of five riders established itself relatively early into the day. They quickly managed to get a gap of over four minutes but the peloton always had proceedings under control. Their advantage was slowly whittled down throughout the day and coming onto the final categorised climb of the day with 20 kilometres left, only Wellens remained out front. The peloton exploded on that climb, with riders going both out the front and off the back. Eventual stage winner Alaphilippe made a stinging attack on the ascent and went clear of the peloton.

The team worked strongly at the front of the bunch in an attempt to bring it back together and set up Michael Matthews for the finale, but Alaphilippe held on for the stage win. Matthews showed his class by delivering a really good turn of speed on the difficult uphill finale, winning the sprint in the peloton to take a great second place on the stage.

“On the categorised climb where Quick Step really pushed it and exploded the bunch I was almost dropped there,” explained Matthews after the finish. “I had really good team mates around me who kept me motivated and brought me back to the front; to keep me in the race. It’s unfortunate that Alaphilippe stayed away because my sprint was really good and I really gave it everything I had to the finish. Today is a confidence booster for us going forwards.”

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek continued: “We were pretty much in control during most of the stage. We were a little bit on the back foot after Reims, where we lost each other but the guys did well to get back into position. On the climbs Quick Step made a hard pace, especially on the steep one where Alaphilippe attacked. Michael was on the limit and the guys stayed with him to bring him back. We tried to up the pace with Lennard because we saw that the gap was getting bigger but we couldn’t go too hard because Michael was suffering. We did what we could and in the end Alaphilippe was too strong. Michael kept fighting and came back, which was really good to see. In the end he took second place still which was impressive. It was an honest final in which we got second place with some good team work.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 ALAPHILIPPE Julian Deceuninck - Quick Step 4:40:29 120
2 MATTHEWS Michael Team Sunweb 0:26 50
3 STUYVEN Jasper Trek - Segafredo ,, 25
27 KELDERMAN Wilco Team Sunweb 0:31 -
44 ROCHE Nicolas Team Sunweb ,, -
78 KÄMNA Lennard Team Sunweb 4:54 -
91 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team Sunweb 8:43 -
102 ARNDT Nikias Team Sunweb 9:26 -
151 HAGA Chad Team Sunweb 13:58 -
175 BOL Cees Team Sunweb ,, -