Tour de France: Stage 14 finish line quotes

Matthews gets victory in Rodez; Aru loses yellow to Froome

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) - Stage 14 winner

I think it was as expected. We rode all day, and when we kept the breakaway so close, I knew it was going to be hard to have a lot of teammates in the final, because we had to ride quite hard to bring De Gendt back.

We rode all day and were still able to have two or three guys there with me in the final. It was a perfect day.

I think last time we finished here two years ago, I had four broken ribs and skin off all over my body, and it was one of the stages I was really targeting before I crashed. Now, to come back on the same finish and to win like that, it’s really a dream come true.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) - Current race leader

It's a very nice surprise. I never thought I'd get the jersey back on a stage like today, thanks to my teammates for keeping me in front. Kwiatkowski did a great job. The team always stayed very close to the front, and taking 20 seconds is enormous. It's the same as Peyragudes. Every seconds counts. It's a fight for every second this year.

I knew the finish from two years ago, but I have to say that was all the team today, keeping me at the front through all those twisty corners in the final. Without the job the team did today there was no way I could have found myself in that position, especially Kwiato in the final, did an amazing job to keep me there in the last K. The last 500 metres he was just shouting in the radio, 'Go go go, you've got a gap, it's splitting to bits back here, just push!'. It was amazing to hear that.

Every second here - it's still so close between the main rivals, so every second here is worth really fighting for.

If you look at how the race blew up yesterday when Astana was trying to control it, hopefully we can bring the peloton into a little calmer situation tomorrow once we're in control again. Having said that, it's been a big week for everyone, and I expect it will be war again tomorrow.

Fabio Aru (Astana) - Lost overall lead to Chris Froome in stage 14 finish

In the last kilometre, I was a bit too far back, and so I had to make too big an effort to get back on to the group. I got caught out. Today it happened to me, tomorrow it could happen to somebody else. These are race situations. The important thing is, at the end of the day, to be able to fight on. Losing the jersey is not so tough news, given what's coming up? Logically, I'd prefer to have the lead, but this is going to be a very tough final week, and so not everything is lost.

At a kilometre and a half to go the group was already falling apart, and I was too far back. I tried to regain places but it was too late. It's not a few seconds difference now between me and Froome, but it's not so many, so the Tour is still wide open. Tomorrow [Sunday] will be a very hard stage, so we'll try and recover today, then a rest day, which is important. I was a bit too far back, and that's why I lost those seconds.

Michael Valgren (Astana

[Asked what happened with Aru].

I don't know. Ask him. I tried to take him to the front, but he didn't stick on my wheel. Did we lose the jersey?

[After being told Froome has the jersey after the stage].

Good.

I knew the run-in from two years ago, so I knew it was a hard one. It was hectic with the big downhill and everybody coming from the side. It was kind of a lottery to be in the front. Sometimes you're there and sometimes you get snapped by the bunch.

I don't know what happened to Fabio, to be honest. We were three guys there in the end, so it was hard to keep in the front.

Dimitri Fofonov (Astana director)

[Aru] was alone, so he paid all the efforts made in the last few days, And the finish was explosive, it was no playground, it was a real climb. We immediately realized that there were breaks and we had to calculate. We've lost the battle but not the war.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) - most aggressive rider

We knew beforehand that only a large group could stay away, but it was not easy to get that many away on the flat roads. I did not necessarily want to be in the breakaway of the day. That's why I put in the first attack, hoping that others would counter and a teammate could escape. But in the end, the first attack was the right one and we ended up with five at the front."

Since the peloton did not give much space to the breakaway, we decided to take it up to 60 kilometers from the end, when the hilly section came. I soon felt the strongest in the lead group, and I had to choose between going alone or staying with my fellow escapees. When I raised the pace for the first time, only Voeckler could follow, but I was clearly stronger than him. So I went solo in the last 30 kilometers, but I was no match against the peloton.

It was definitely worth taking this ride in the attack. Two years ago, I was also in the escape on my arrival in Rodez and then I was caught in the last 500 meters. We'll see what opportunities there are in this Tour de France, but we'll definitely still go for a stage win.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - stage runner-up

The beginning was really easy and then we made the race hard until the climbs. I think we did a really good job to make the race hard which was better for me because then everyone was suffering and I had a little bit more punch in the end. I think we did what we had to do but I got beaten by one guy who was stronger so, in the end, cycling can be simple.

With Richie Porte out of the Tour de France, one of the main objectives was a stage win with me. We tried and we were second but there are still some stages to come so I think we can be confident and we can try another time.

The finish went how I wanted it to go because there was a lot of wind. I was hoping that I didn't have to go too early and I think the two Belgian guys, Oliver Naesen and Philippe Gilbert did a good job and I was in a perfect position. Then, I tried to launch my sprint to victory but Matthews was amazingly strong and he deserved the victory today.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) - third on the stage

The guys did a great job. 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.

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