Michael Matthews has moved within touching distance of the Tour de France green jersey after another aggressive day of racing.
Following Mark Cavendish’s fourth win of the race on stage 13, the Briton held a lead of 101 points to Matthews in the points classification.
But Matthews has continued to attack the race and has so far claimed 141 points in the intermediate sprints, the most in the race.
He then made it into stage 16’s breakaway, finishing third in Saint-Gaudens, and Matthews now sits just 27 points adrift of Cavendish with five stages left.
With stage 17 having an intermediate sprint before the three mountains, Matthews could move within single digits of Cavendish.
He missed out on the chance to win stage 16 to Patrick Konrad and take even more points in the race for green, but Matthews has insisted that he will keep trying to get closer to the Manx man.
However, the winner of the classification in 2017 admits that Cavendish remains the outright favourite.
“I am closer [to the points classification lead] but not close enough,” the BikeExchange rider said after the finish on stage 16.
“Cavendish still has two more sprint opportunities in this Tour de France. If he wins them then that’s another 100 points so all this work I’ve been doing the last days could be all for nothing, but I am a fighter and I will fight all the way to Paris.”
His team have been targeting stage wins throughout the Tour with Matthews, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves.
Mathews felt like he could have accomplished that goal on a wet and windy Tuesday in the Pyrenees, but isn’t downbeat with a third-place.
“I think today was a good opportunity for a stage win for a rider like myself,” the 30-year-old said.
“Our plan was to go in the breakaway, and we achieved that. The plan was to get some points in the intermediate and we achieved that, but just came up short with the stage win.
“We keep bashing at the door to get that stage win and we will continue fighting for it.
“We had eight guys chopping off [when Konrad attacked] so I didn’t think that break would go, and I wasn’t feeling that good on the climbs today so I really wanted to back my sprint and hope that it would all come back together, but in the end one rider stayed away.”
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