Aussie cyclist rues missed opportunity
CYCLING: Australian rider Michael Matthews admits his green jersey hopes are at a crossroads after he was blown away by a furious finale to Stage 10 of the Tour de France.
Matthews was left without answers as explosive rival Marcel Kittel took his fourth stage win of the Tour and a vice-like grip on the points classification.
On a day where Chris Froome's 18-second general classification lead was never threatened, Matthews screamed in frustration as he crossed the line in 13th place - a result that severely dented his green jersey ambitions.
Matthews sat outside the Team Sunweb bus with his head in his hands for several minutes after the finish before being consoled by teammate Nikias Arndt.
After clawing back ground on hillier terrain, he could only watch as another Kittel masterclass on the flatlands doubled the German's lead to 102 points.
Asked if it was still possible for him to finish in green in Paris, Matthews was matter-of-fact.
"I think that's something we have to discuss tonight. Do we keep going for it? Or do we give it a miss and stop going for the intermediate (sprints) and just go for stage wins?" Matthews said.
"I think we'll need to have a chat with everyone tonight and see what we did wrong and what we can do better next time."
Matthews was again irritated by what he believed was a fragile leadout that left him with too much work to do.
"My (mojo) is totally there but there was a miscommunication with the leadout train today," he said.
"We weren't where we said we wanted to be in the meeting and it left me with a long sprint to try and even get into the top 15 to even get any points.
"We've been going quite well but today was really one of the days where we needed to nail it and we didn't."
While it is mathematically possible for Matthews to overhaul the deficit in the 11 stages before Paris, Kittel's dominance meant this was a hammer blow.
"I think knowing now that if I want to go for it, it's going be a long battle," Matthews said.
"If you want to go for that jersey you need to be up there every single day and until now I've been pretty consistent with that. But with this finish it's disappointing.
"Devastated is probably the word."
Kittel said he had "never felt better" but refused to entertain suggestions he was unbeatable, naming Matthews as a constant threat.
"It's by far not decided. I personally like to act like I don't have green on my shoulders because you saw a couple of days ago with the GC guys the race can very quickly be over," Kittel said.
"I almost can't believe what is happening. It's great to see how strong the team is.
"I won now so many stages in the Tour. I never expected it when I was starting my career. I never really expected to be even in the Tour. I was hoping maybe at one point to become a professional but that I would be at this level with these wins, it's hard for me to imagine."
Another flat day awaits on Wednesday with a 203.5km trek from Eymet to Pau before the peloton hits the Pyrenees.
Froome, who retains an 18-second lead over Fabio Aru, said he accepted the Italian's explanation that he didn't see the Brit raise his arm for mechanical assistance before attacking him.