Overall leader Jonas Vingegaard tracked Tadej Po-gacar’s attack all the way to the stage 14 finish line as the defending champion tried, but failed, to take time off his Danish rival on another tense, baking day at the Tour de France on Saturday. Australian Michael Matthews won the stage, a sizzling 192km run south-west from Saint-Etienne, after a see-saw struggle with Italian rider Alberto Bettiol up the final hill.
After three days in the mountains and a tense struggle Friday, gathering fatigue was exacerbated as the road temperature hit 60C as the race entered rustic, hilly terrain with dry stone walls everywhere.
Only 40 kilometres in, Pogacar had tried an attack before Vingegaard’s Jumbo team reeled the Slovenian UAE man.
“It’s a race. I tried and I’ll keep doing that,” said Pogacar who remains 2min 22sec off Vingegaard. “Pogacar got away early when I was dozing,” admit-ted the yellow jersey. “But my team pulled hard and got him back.”
The sweating peloton settled down as it raced along the narrow, roads packed with rowdy fans in otherwise empty countryside, Matthews and 20 other riders broke away. The first time the 31-year-old Matthews tried to shake off his companions, he was reeled in and overtaken by Bettiol. —AFP