Matthews fights to fourth on another frantic & thrilling sprint stage on day four of the Tour de France – Team BikeExchange

Australian sprinter Michael Matthews looked to go one better than the opening stage of the Tour de France where he picked up second place, as he battled his way through a thrilling finale on today’s fourth stage, to take a strong fourth place on the line after a late solo escapee was caught nail-bitingly close, inside the last 50metres, with Mark Cavendish claiming the victory.

Like all previous sprint stages, the final was fast, frantic, and chaotic with every team fighting to position their sprinter at the front and keep their GC leaders out of trouble. Slovenian rider Luka Mezgec worked to position Matthews in the final kilometres as the pace picked up, with it looking uncertain as to whether the lone leader could hold off the peloton.

Scrapping for the best route to the finish line, Matthews launched out of the wheels and took a strong fourth place, which moves him up to third overall in the points classification standings after also picking up fourth place in the day’s intermediate sprint.

The team’s climbers all remained safe and survived the stage without any problems with Esteban Chaves currently the highest on the GC for the squad in 15 place at 52 seconds. Attention now turns to tomorrow’s first test for the classification race with the first individual time trial of this year’s tour.

Michael Matthews – 4th place
“That was like every other Tour de France sprint; hectic. With the resources we had there with just me and Luka Mezgec in the final, we had to wait and then make a run at the end. Luka did a great job positioning me in the final there and I finished fourth. Of course I came to win, but I have to be satisfied with fourth place today.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director
“It was a good sprint, a sprint that suited Michael’s characteristics more than a plain flat sprint. He took fourth place on the stage so it was a good result and we have also moved up to third place in the green jersey competition ahead of a well-deserved rest day for some tomorrow on the TT Day.”

Lucas Hamilton
“It will be nice tomorrow not to have 180 riders around me, my TT hasn’t been great this year but it is a big part of this tour so all I can do is put my best effort in and see what I can do. Then on the other side of it we are getting closer and closer to the mountains which I am really looking forward to.”

2021 Tour de France – Stage 4 results:
1. Mark Cavendish 3:20:17
2. Nacer Bouhanni ST
3. Jasper Philipsen ST
4. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) ST

General Classification result after stage 4:
1. Mathieu van der Poel 16:19:10
2. Julian Alaphilippe +0:08
3. Richard Carapaz +0:31
15. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +0:52

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

One day double header opens Belgian adventure for Team Novo Nordisk

Team Novo Nordisk hit the North next week with back-to-back one day races in Belgium at Dwars door het Hageland followed by Elfstedenronde.

The world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team return to the hard and unforgiving cobbles for the first time since last year’s Brabantse Pijl prepared for some tough racing to lead them into the fast-approaching Baloise Belgium Tour.

These two races open up a solid ten-day block of racing in Belgium for us,” said Sports Director Gennady Mikhaylov. “With the Baloise Belgium Tour coming up a couple of days later, we are hoping that Hageland and Elfstedenronde will get us back into the hard northern European style of racing and ready to hit the cobblestones once again.”

“We’ll be ready to go on Saturday, it’s going to be an intense weekend of racing, but it will be a great experience for some of our guys who haven’t raced in Belgium before and that will be invaluable for them and the team.’

American first year pro Logan Phippen returns for his first races since Belgrade Banjaluka with French puncheur Charles Planet and experienced teammate Joonas Henttala all coming straight from the recent Tour de la Mirabelle.

“I was a little bit disappointed with missing out on a top ten stage result at Mirabelle,” said Planet. “It’s my home race and I desperately wanted to do well there, but I struggled with some sickness after the Tour de Hongrie and that affected my preparation.”

“I’m over that now, recovered and fully focused on Belgium and these next races. We have a good team lining up and we’re motivated to make the most of the opportunities we will have throughout the three races.”

An untimely crash at last week’s Tour of Estonia makes sprinter Andrea Peron a doubt whilst 22-year-old Australian Declan Irvine put in a strong performance in Estonia last week and will be joined by Irishman Stephen Clancy and Italian all-rounder Umberto Poli.

First up is the 18th edition of Dwars door het Hageland on Saturday and a 180 kilometer parcours peppered with short, sharp bergs and closing with what are set to be very fast finishing circuits.

Rounding out the weekend is the 38th edition of the one-day semi classic Elfstedenronde, first held way back in 1943 and formerly known as the Bruges Cycling Classic. The race covers 193 kilometers and traditionally favours the sprinters.

Team Novo Nordisk at Dwars door het Hageland and Elfstedenronde, 5th & 6th June:

Stephen Clancy (IRL, 28)

Joonas Henttala (FIN, 29)

Declan Irvine (AUS, 22)

Andrea Peron (IT, 32)

Logan Phippen (USA, 29)

Charles Planet (FR, 27)

Umberto Poli (IT, 24)

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com