Michael Matthews’ great effort in the sprinters’ green jersey battle was overshadowed on a dramatic day when fellow Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France.
Riding in the mountains with the world’s best climbers for a good part of the tour’s toughest stage, Matthews improved from third to second in the points classification after collecting the maximum 20 points for winning the intermediate sprint.
He closed to within 52 points of green jersey leader Marcel Kittel (212 points), the winner of three stages,and is 30 points clear another German star, Andre Greipel.
The versatile Matthews was part of a 38-rider breakaway group seven kilometres into the Sunday’s stage, maintaining his spot among the leaders by the 126.5km mark to win the 7.5km-sprint at Massignieu-de-Rives.
“Wow, what a day by all my team at (Sunweb). That was a team effort,” he tweeted.
The 26-year-old Matthews’ chances for a maiden green jersey title have been greatly boosted the absences of sprint heavyweights Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish.
Five-time green jersey winner Sagan was disqualified from the remainder of the Tour after he sent Cavendish crashing in the stage four sprint.
French star Arnaud Demare, who was in second place in the points competition, is also now out after missing the time cut off on stage nine.
BMC’s Porte, one of the pre-race favourites, crashed heavily at high-speed on the stage’s final descent on Mont du Chat, fracturing his right clavicle and pelvis.
Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac won the stage, which claimed Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas to a crash injury.
Matthews’ Sunweb teammate Warren Barguil, the polka dot jersey wearer for leading climber came second behind Uran in a photo-finish on Sunday and later acknowledged the Australian’s efforts.
“Today was an amazing day for myself and the team. We had five guys in the break which was brilliant,” Barguil said.
“After Michael won the intermediate sprint, the guys went full for my chances on day success and that gave me the confidence that I needed to climb at my best.”