Michael Matthews showed his true class in winning the tough stage from Le Puy en Velay to Romans sur Isere. There may have only been a couple of small climbs (a cat 3 and a cat 4) in the early part of the stage but the winds were gale force and that often put the riders down the edge of the road.
Matthews’ Sunweb team saw that Green jersey leader Marcel Kittel was in trouble and they put the hammer down. To give Kittel his due he never gave up but the big teams decided to make a race of it in the strong cross winds and he was not able to claw his way back.
The biggest loser in the race for the yellow jersey was Irishman Dan Martin who missed the split when Sky put it in the gutter about 15 kilometres to go. Actually the two main challengers for the overall win, Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet only just managed to claw their way back on.
There is no doubt now that Matthews can win the green Jersey. What looked an impossible task just a few days ago now seems possible. Although he may rue the missed opportunity a couple of days ago where a gentlemanly act of peeing in private cost him at least 20 points.
Both of the mountain stages in the next couple of days have a good climb before the intermediate sprint and that is where Matthews will strike. He will need a slight cushion when they ride into Paris as I reckon Kittel has a mortgage on that one.
The race for the white jersey is also very interesting and Simon Yates from Orica Scott managed to grab some vital seconds in the finale when Louis Mentjes got caught out with Dan Martin and lost 51 seconds. But the mountains in the next two days will decide all that.
And the same goes for race for the Yellow Jersey. On face value Chris Froome looks comfortable, as we all know his great strength is the race of truth – the time trail, and his two main adversaries are not specialists. But this race will be won by the best mountain climber in the Alps and both Aru and Bardet have said that they are not interested in getting on the podium. They both are desperate for the win.
Bring it on.
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