2017 Tour de France: Stage 14 results and commentary

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    Stage Results:

    Michael Matthews captured his second ever Tour de France stage and Chris Froome managed to regain the yellow jersey in an action packed ending to Stage 14.

    From the moment the gun went today team Sunweb put their faith in Michael Matthews to go for the team’s second stage win in a row after Warren Barguil’s Stage 13 heroics.

    Spending the majority of the stage riding on the front of the peloton Matthews’ team was able to pull back a spirited breakaway headed by serial breakaway artists Tommy Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).

    Once the bunch descended into Rodez and hit the final drag up the Cote de Saint-Pierre it was a three way fight between Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Phillipe Gilbert (Ettix) and Matthews.

    The Australian positioned himself perfectly on the wheel of Van Avermaet, sprinting around the Olympic champion after they overtook Gilbert, to take his second-ever Tour stage win.

    It was in the final descent too that team Sky and Chris Froome managed to dislodge race leader Fabio Aru from the Maillot Jaune.

    It was not so much strength of legs but tactics and positioning that helped an opportunistic Froome steal back the race lead he lost two stages ago.

    In the fast and furious descent into the city, an isolated Aru never looked comfortable and wound up too far back in the peloton to combat Sky’s attack.

    Froome, along with fellow GC contenders Roman Bardet and Rigerberto Uran, managed to gain 25 seconds on Aru, pushing the Italian back to second overall: 19 seconds behind Froome and only four and ten seconds to Bardet and Uran.

    Stage results
    1. Michael Matthews (Sunweb)
    2. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
    3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) +0.01
    4. Philippe Gilbert (Etix) +0.01
    5. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0.01
    6. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) +0.01
    7. Chris Froome (Sky) +0.01
    8. Dan Martin (Ettix) +0.01
    9. Riberberto Uran (Cannondale) +0.01
    10. Tisej Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) +0.05

    General classification
    1. Chris Froome (Sky)
    2. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0.19
    3. Roman Bardet (AG2R) +0.23
    4. Rigeberto Uran (Cannondale) +0.29
    5. Michael Landa (Sky) +1.17
    6. Dan Martin (Ettix) +1.26
    7. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) +2.02
    8. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2.22
    9. Louis Meintjes (UAE) +5.09
    10. Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) +5.37

    Stage preview:

    After the explosion of the general classification over the last two stages, the Tour de France settles down today for Stage 14: Blagnac to Rodez but with time bonuses and one of the final chances for sprinters and a breakaway up for grabs there is still plenty to race for. Join The Roar from 10pm AEST tonight for live coverage.

    While today’s 181km route doesn’t crest the high alpine peaks of the last few stages, its constant ups and downs and steep uphill finish will be sure to push the legs of a tiring peloton.

    Starting relatively flatly out of Blagnac, the intermediate sprint will take place at the 50km mark before the road heads slowly upwards towards Rodez.

    Two Category 3 climbs up the Cote de Viaduc Du Viaur and the Cote de Centres 131km and 145km into the ride are the steepest passes registering at a 7 per cent gradient for a touch over 2km each.

    Once the peloton hits the highest point of the stage 15km from the finish the road will head down into Rodez with a fast technical descent into the city, including a number of roundabout passes and tight city corners ensuring plenty of high speed jostling for prime positions.

    With 570m remaining the riders will reach the Cote de Saint-Pierre and head uphill in a hurry with a near 10 per cent gradient for the contenders to duke it out on for a 10 second time bonus and the stage honours.

    Prediction
    There are a number of possibilities for the stage and depending how the peloton feels the day could go a number of different ways.

    It is one of the few remaining stages that suit a breakaway so stage hunters like Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings and Tommy Voeckler, who is riding his final Tour De France, will be going from the gun to try and make a breakaway stick.

    If the right mix of teams makes the break the GC powerhouses such as Sky could let themselves have a slightly easier day and let the break fight for the stage.

    If the peloton brings back the break the steep finish rules out the pure sprinters of Marcel Kittle and Andre Greipel.

    2016 Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet, who is currently having the best year of his career, won on the same climb in Rodez in 2015 and will be looking to salvage team BMC’s tour on today’s stage.

    He will face stiff competition from Michael Matthews, Phillipe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen among the other classics specialist looking for a Tour stage win.

    However with a 10 second time bonus up for grabs and such small gaps between the leading GC contenders it is hard to rule out the likes of Fabio Aru, Rigoberto Uran and Roman Bardet stretching their legs and looking to take time from Chris Froome.

    It is only a short final climb but Froome has not looked comfortable on the really steep slopes at this year’s Tour.

    My pick for the stage though is Dan Martin, he has a history of snagging stages like this and he showed over the last two stages he has well and truly shaken off the effects of his Stage 9 crash.

    So Roarers, who do you think will take today’s victory, let me know in the comments below and join us from 10pm for your live coverage.