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

Brown digs deep for fifth place in thrilling La Course finale – Team BikeExchange

Vuleta a Burgos stage winner Grace Brown dug deep as she sprinted to fifth place in a relentless and thrilling edition of La Course by le Tour de France.

The punishing 107km race burst into life inside the final 40km as Spanish climber Ane Santesteban made it into a strong 13-rider group on the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups climb.

The peloton eventually reacted to the move on the following ascent of the climb as a reduced bunch bridged across to the attackers on the lower slopes. A fresh attack was then launched over the top, with Brown quick to react as she followed the wheels to make up part of a 12-rider escape group.

As the bell rang out of the last lap the group held an advantage of 45 seconds, but with no cooperation amongst the leaders the gap soon began to fall. The catch was eventually made with 4km to go as Team BikeExchange moved to the front with Australian champion Sarah Roy leading into the foot of the final climb.

Attacks were launched immediately with Brown once again amongst a select group to edge off the front of the pack. Several riders then attempted to go solo in the closing metres, but the day ultimately came down to a nervous and cagey sprint for the line with Brown fighting to fifth place behind winner Demi Vollering.

Grace Brown:
“It was an exciting race, right from the start the pace was super high in the peloton. We had Ane in a break when we first hit the circuit and then I followed another move which stayed away until the final ascent to the finish line.

Roy gave us a great lead out, but I probably made a mistake trying to follow an attack by Tiff Cromwell at the start of the climb. In the end I didn’t quite have the kick I needed to contest the sprint.”

Alejandro González-Tablas (Sports Director):
“It was a pretty good day, the girls rode really well as a team and they all had their opportunity to be in breakaways and we had Ane there covering an important moves as we came onto the local laps.

The Grace made it into another break and she tried to play it a little bit cool knowing the group was coming from behind. In the end she was just missing the legs a little bit after make some efforts that we could have avoided.

But in the end it went to plan and we achieved the goals that we set for this race, so we are happy and full of confidence going into the Giro.”

2021 La Course – Results:
1. Demi Vollering 2:59:29
2. Cecillie Uttrup Ludwig ST
3. Marianne Vos ST
5. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) ST

Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com