Having finished top-ten in the previous five sprint stages of the Tour de France and taken points at the intermediate sprint points, Michael Matthews was left 'devastated' after his 13th place finish in Bergerac on stage 10.
"Devastated, I think is the word to put out now," Matthews told press assembled at the team bus post-stage. "I think normally we have been going quite well. Today was really one of the days we really needed to nail it, and we didn't."
The disqualification of Peter Sagan after stage 4 opened the door for Matthews to make a bid for the green jersey but with Kittel taking four stage wins and points at the intermediates, the 27-year-old finds himself on the back foot.
"If you want to go for that jersey you have to be up there every single day. Until now, I have been pretty consistent with that, but with this finish, it is a bit disappointing," said Matthews on 173 points in the green jersey comp. "I think knowing now that if I want to go for it, it is going to be a long battle."
Acknowledging Kittel as the supporter sprinter of the 2017 Tour peloton, Matthews and Sunweb has targeted the harder intermediate sprint points and executed the plan to perfection on stage 9. While there are points on offer in the second half of the race where Kittel is likely to struggle on the hillier parcours, the German will be a favourite for several more stage wins. As a result, Matthews and Sunweb will rethink their strategy as he explained.
"We will have to have a chat with everyone tonight and see what we did wrong and what we can do better next time," Matthews said. "I think that is something we have to discuss tonight whether we go for it or we give it a miss and stop going for the intermediates and just focus on stages."
With the disappointment of stage 10's result evident in his body language and his shout as he crossed the line, Matthews was lost whether he had lost his mojo. He explained he is still confident of adding to his stage win from last year but first the team next to get its groove back.
"Mine is totally there. I don't know if it was a miscommunication with the lead out train today, but we weren't where we said we wanted to be in the meeting and it left me a long sprint to try even get into the top 15 to even get any points," he said.
With stage 11 another day for the sprinters and Kittel, Matthews' next best shot for a stage win is likely to come on stage 14 to Rodez. By then, he and Sunweb will have decided if the green jersey ambitions are alive or shelved until 2018.
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