Go­ing for the jugu­lar, Matthews seals win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - Years (Peter Sa­gan), now this is go­ing to be ex­cit­ing,” said Matthews. John De­genkolb com­plained that Matthews did not hold his line in the sprint, but the Aus­tralian was adamant he raced

RO­MANS-SUR-IS­ERE, France: Michael Matthews im­proved his chances of win­ning the points clas­si­fi­ca­tion on the Tour de France, as the Aus­tralian claimed the 16th stage yes­ter­day af­ter his Sun­web team worked hard to keep green jersey holder Mar­cel Kit­tel out of con­tention.

Sun­web rode hard in the first climb of the day as Ger­man Kit­tel was dropped, mak­ing sure he would not come back, and they col­lected their third win in four stages af­ter Matthews won stage 14 and French­man War­ren Bar­guil pre­vailed on stage 13.

Matthews col­lected points in the in­ter­me­di­ate sprint and at the fin­ish to nar­row the gap with Kit­tel to 29, set­ting up a duel with the Quick-Step Floors rider in the final days of the race.

“It had been the same guy every year for five fairly.

“I saw the sprint on TV af­ter­wards. I sprinted in the same di­rec­tion, I did not change my line. I left a space be­tween me and the bar­rier,” Matthews said, adding that De­genkolb had grabbed him by the neck af­ter the fin­ish.

“He grabbed me by the neck. The of­fi­cials saw that, I don’t know what they’re go­ing to do about it.

“I don’t think it’s very un­sports­man-like.”

It was a bad day for Quick-Step Floors as Ire­land’s Dan Martin, who started the day in fifth place over­all, lost 51 sec­onds af­ter a late pelo­ton split as cross­winds swept the roads in the Rhone val­ley.

Martin slipped to sev­enth, 2:03 be­hind race leader Chris Froome, who re­tained the yel­low jersey af­ter his Team Sky’s bru­tal ac­cel­er­a­tion 14km from the line caused the de­ci­sive split in the pelo­ton.

With sev­eral other top sprint­ers out of con­tention af­ter be­ing trapped be­hind, Matthews was the strong­est of what was left of the bunch.

Over­all, Froome leads Ital­ian Fabio Aru by 18 sec­onds.

“Every­body knew that the last 20 kilo­me­tres were in the wind and that’s where we de­cided to up the pace to make a se­lec­tion,” said Froome.

French­man Ro­main Bardet, who was at the wrong end of the split, had his AG2R-La Mon­di­ale team mate Oliver Nae­sen to thank as the Bel­gian cham­pion pro­duced a mas­sive ef­fort to bring him back into the front group.

Bardet stays third over­all, 23 sec­onds off the pace ahead of a cou­ple of bru­tal stages in the Alps to­day and to­mor­row. – Reuters


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