Australia's Michael Matthews waits to take the start of the ninth stage of the Tour de France
Australia's Michael Matthews waits to take the start of the ninth stage of the Tour de France Christophe Ena

Tour de France: Matthews inspired by fallen mate

MICHAEL Matthews is drawing inspiration from stricken mate Richie Porte as he chases the Tour de France green jersey.

Australian Matthews is locked in a fight with German powerhouse Marcel Kittel in the sprinters classification - the Tour's most prestigious honour after the maillot jaune.

Matthews and Porte, who both live in Monaco, are close friends and made a pact before the start of the race to finish atop of their respective classifications like they did at Paris-Nice in 2015.

"I was able to message him yesterday and he replied this morning and said: 'Thanks a lot for the message, I really appreciate it. Just please bring home that green jersey for me and I'll be the happiest guy in the world'," Matthews said.

"I got a little bit emotional about that actually. It was nice of him to say that, especially after he had just lost his chance of going for the yellow.

 

Team Sunweb rider Michael Matthews of Australia in action during the 9th stage of the Tour de France
Team Sunweb rider Michael Matthews of Australia in action during the 9th stage of the Tour de France YOAN VALAT

"It was really nice having two Australians going for the top step of their categories in the Tour de France. Unfortunately now there's only me, but I would really like to pull it off.

"It would change my life really, to be on the same page as the Aussies who have won it. But that's a long way away and I have a lot of hard work to do over the next two weeks to even have a shot at it."

Australia has a rich history with green at the world's biggest bike race. Robbie McEwen as finished in it three times (2002, 2004, 2006) and Baden Cooke once (2003).

With fast men Peter Sagan, Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish all out of the race, Matthews has been presented with a golden opportunity.

"Knowing that other Aussies have won it before makes me feel like it's possible," Matthews said.

"I've got a few tips off those guys as to how they went about it and how they got their points so hopefully I can use that to my advantage."

But with triple stage winner Kittel seemingly unstoppable on the flat stages, Matthews knows he has to limit the damage there while making ground the hard way - picking up points in mountainous terrain like he did on Stage 9.

It was on that day that he closed Kittel's lead to 52 points. Riders get 20 points for winning intermediate sprints and 50 points for winning stages, with points also awarded on a sliding scale.

"There's definitely more confidence now being a little bit closer," Matthews said.

"I wouldn't say it's enough (just to pick up points in the mountains). It's put us back in the game a bit, but it's not enough. We have to fight for every single point.

"With Kittel sprinting the way he is, it's going to be difficult, but we still have our stages that we feel we've got the best chance of winning. On the flat stages we just have to do the best we can."

News Corp Australia


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