First Reto Hollenstein worked hard to go in a long 140+km break earlier in the day; later Tony Martin drove hard from the front to try to break things up in the peloton. And finally, Maurits Lammertink escaped in the closing 10kms to try his luck into the finish in Rodez, only to be brought back by the teams of Sunweb and BMC who had ambitions for the stage win.
“We wanted to try with the whole team today in the hilly part. First we tried with Tony to open up a gap. Then I tried and I did get a gap but Caruso was there from BMC and Arndt from Sunweb so it was difficult with them not wanting to cooperate. At least I tried. I wanted to try something this weekend and today was a day to try. And I will try again in the next days. This is my first Tour and it’s a nice experience. I like it, with all the media and everything it’s so much bigger than other races,” said Maurits Lammertink.
Winning the sprint was Sunweb’s Michael Matthews with a time of 4:21:56 (41.575km/h) on the 181.5km stage 14 that began in Blagnac. Second and third places went to Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (+.01) of Dimension Data.
“Now for sure I am tired,” said Hollenstein. “I think we did a good race. We tried; we did not win but this is cycling and we need to try again. It was hard getting into the break. Finally we were let go, but De Gendt was the strongest in the break and I could not follow him. Nobody wants to let the groups go more than 3 minutes in this Tour; today we were only 2 minutes, but for sure as a team we will try again. I hope in the next few days we will make something happen.”
The rolling final put yellow jersey wearer Fabio Aru (Astana) in difficulty, with the Italian rider losing 25-seconds on the day and giving the race lead back to Chris Froome of Team Sky. Three-time winner Froome now holds 18-seconds to Aru and 23-seconds to Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale. Only a 29-second spread separate the top 4 riders, making it a very close 104th Tour de France as the final week of racing and the Alps draw closer.
Stage 15 on Sunday is similar to today. At 189.5km, the stage begins in Laissac-Sévérac l'Église and ends Le Puy-en-Velay.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele