German grabs Aussie in post- race scuffle
AUSTRALIAN sprinter Michael Matthews has slammed German John Degenkolb for grabbing him in the aftermath of his stage 16 victory at the Tour de France.
Team Sunweb rider Matthews crossed the line ahead of Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen and Degenkolb to claim his second stage win in three days and move to within 29 points of green jersey leader Marcel Kittel.
Degenkolb gesticulated towards Matthews as he crossed the finish line, incensed that he had veered offline in the high- speed finish and pushed him towards the barriers. However, Matthews defended his tactics and said the Trek- Segafredo rider was the protagonist in an ugly post- stage incident.
“He grabbed me by the neck. The officials saw that. I don’t know what they’re going to do about it,” Matthews said. “It was not very sportsmanlike.” Matthews was adamant his run to the finish line was clean.
“From my perspective I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
“I started my sprint and sprinted in a straight line. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but that’s up to him.
“If I had done anything wrong the race officials would have told me.”
Kittel has 373 points to lead the sprinters’ classification with Matthews on 344. Tomorrow’s 19th stage and Sunday’s race finish on the Champs Elysees present Matthews with his best chances of another stage win.
He has, however, earmarked the next two stages as opportunities to eat into Kittel’s advantage.
“Kittel is the fastest guy on the flats, so I won’t beat him on those, but I need to get points everywhere else, like the hilly stages and uphill sprints,” he said.
BIG FINISH: Australia's Michael Matthews ( second from left) wins the 16th stage of the Tour de France ahead of Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen ( right) and Germany's John Degenkolb ( left) who was second.