Home Sport Matthews back in the green jersey game as Kittel is dropped

Matthews back in the green jersey game as Kittel is dropped

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Brutal stages ahead

Team Sunweb rider Michael Matthews of Australia celebrates with teammates after winning the 16th stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race over 165 km between Le Puy-en-Velay and Romans-sur-Isere yesterday.

Michael Matthews improved his chances of winning the points classification on the Tour de France, as the Australian claimed the 16th stage yesterday after his Sunweb team worked hard to keep green jersey holder Marcel Kittel out of contention.

Sunweb rode hard in the first climb of the day as German Kittel was dropped, making sure he would not come back, and they collected their third win in four stages after Matthews (pictured) won stage 14 and Frenchman Warren Barguil prevailed on stage 13.

Matthews collected points in the intermediate sprint and at the finish to narrow the gap with Kittel to 29, setting up a duel with the Quick-Step Floors rider in the final days of the race.

“It had been the same guy every year for five years (Peter Sagan), now this is going to be exciting,” said Matthews, who outsprinted Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and German John Degenkolb.

Degenkolb complained that Matthews did not hold his line in the sprint, but the Australian was adamant he raced fairly.

“I saw the sprint on TV afterwards. I sprinted in the same direction, I did not change my line. I left a space between me and the barrier,” Matthews said, adding that Degenkolb had grabbed him by the neck after the finish.

“He grabbed me by the neck. The officials saw that, I don’t know what they’re going to do about it. I don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike.”

Overall, Chris Froome leads Italian Fabio Aru by 18 seconds.

Bardet stays third overall, 23 seconds off the pace ahead of a couple of brutal stages in the Alps today and Thursday. – Reuters