Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Froome regains control as Matthews wins stage 14 of Tour de France

Froome regains control as Matthews wins stage 14 of Tour de France

Within 10 minutes, the 32-year-old from Team Katusha-Alpecin had opened up a one-and-a-half minute lead over the chasing pack.

The Team Sky rider leads Italian Fabio Aru, who appears to be running out of gas, by 18 seconds, and French daredevil Romain Bardet by 23, with Colombian dark horse Rigoberto Uran in fourth place, 29 seconds off the pace.

But Kwiatkowski quickly handed over his wheel and Froome was helped back to the front by teammates Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka and Mikel Nieve, erasing a 45-second gap. With the Spaniard struggling apart from a strong ride on the stage to Foix, Trek have lowered their sights to getting in breakaways and targeting stage wins. With the way Froome and Team Sky are riding now, it's going to take a team effort to give someone else a shot at the overall lead.

Stage 15 features some breathtaking scenic beauty on its route in the Aubrac and also has the category 1 col de Peyra-Taillade, which is an unparalleled route of the Tour de France. Moments later, Froome suffered a puncture but with the race on, no unwritten rule was applied.

"Now I'm back in the GC race". Expect them to ride at the front in the mountains and to set a punishingly fast tempo - all created to prevent others from attacking.

"I had a problem with my rear wheel that had to be changed", Froome said.

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The defending champion came seventh, one second behind stage victor Michael Matthews of Australia as Aru, who started the day with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, lost 25 seconds to the Briton in the final effort, a 600-metre climb at an average gradient of 9.6 per cent.

He added of Sunday's stage: "It will be all hands on deck because it will be a war". "The time I made up today could be very vital". "Yates attacked on the climb [after Froome rejoined the group] ... he kind of stalled and I was a bit afraid ... there were many teammates left [of other riders] ... an Agr2r rider and Landa was there for Chris [Froome]".

Team-mate Luke Rowe, last of the 176 riders left, said: "We gave up the yellow jersey once and I saw that Froomey was very disappointed and he won't do the same again". "We'll check the situation after the Izoard".

Cilic said in his postmatch news conference that he had a "really bad blister" that initially bothered him during his semifinal win. A successful final week in the south of France could change that.

Uran, a former Team Sky rider, finished second at the Giro in 2013 and 2014 after winning the Olympic silver medal in the road race in London in 2012.

The Tour will hit its last mountain range, the Alps, with a couple of grueling stages on Wednesday and Thursday, and the defending champion still has the yellow jersey on his shoulders. In particular, "finishes in the Rhone Valley often end up with bunched sprints", according to race general director Christian Prudhomme, per the Tour's official website.

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