Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) claimed another podium place on the uphill finish to Rodez on stage 14 of Tour de France as he sprinted to third place.
Given the profile of yesterday’s stage, a strong breakaway seemed to have a chance of keeping the peloton at bay. However, not many riders wanted to take on the task and therefore, only five riders ended up making it into the final break.
The front group worked well together but the peloton, led by Team Sunweb and BMC Racing Team, never let the gap get much bigger than just a couple of minutes. Towards the end of the stage, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) attacked his fellow breakaway companions and went solo. However, the peloton upped the pace as well and with 12 km to go, it was all back together again.
A few riders tried to get away on the final kilometres of the stage but none of the attacks proved successful. Therefore, it all came down to the last 600 metres uphill towards the finishing line.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took the front of the peloton to set the pace for Boasson Hagen but when the former World Champion – Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) – attacked, a small gap occurred.
Only the two pre-stage favorites Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) were able to follow Gilbert and at the end, Matthews turned out to be the fastest as he out-sprinted Van Avermaet to take the win.
Boasson Hagen put in a huge effort to close a big gap on the final few hundred metres, which saw him cross the line in third place and take yet another podium in this year’s Tour de France. Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished in seventh place and he’s now back in the yellow jersey.
”The guys did a great job,” said Boasson Hagen. “Scott [Thwaites] and Reinie [Janse van Rensburg] put me in a good position for the final. I tried not to go too deep at the beginning of the ascent but then, a gap opened up and I had to go around riders in order to close it. Afterwards, it was too late for me to fight for the win.
“I’m not surprised that Matthews won. He was my favorite today, which is why I stayed close to him all day. Now, we will look ahead. My shape is good and I hope to get another chance to fight for a stage win later in the race”.