Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s rider comes close to another top 3 finish.
Mattia Cattaneo continues to be the best placed Italian rider at the Tour de France, where he now lies an impressive tenth after a third day in the breakaway, this time with the Pyrenees looming on the horizon. It all happened at the end of the hilly stage 14 between Carcassonne and Quillan, which featured five classified climbs and 3000 vertical meters.
The battle for the breakaway was a fierce one, Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen and Dries Devenyns all trying their luck in a crazy fast first hour of racing, but the peloton remained as one until the Col de Montségur, where Mattia Cattaneo made his move. The 30-year-old was soon followed by other riders and soon a breakaway group was formed, which continued to nudge out its advantage to a maximum of six minutes inside the final 40 kilometers of the stage 14, when attacks began coming thick and fast.
On a descent, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) took off, while behind Cattaneo was the heart of the chasing group, putting in some long turns at the front as he tried to reduce the gap to the Dutchman. The final climb on the course awaited the riders with a brutal double-digit section, which poured lead in the legs of some riders, but Mattia continued to tap out a solid tempo that reduced the margin of the leader. One of the stage’s most combative riders, the man from Lombardia continued to pull in the closing kilometers and finished fourth, missing out on a second podium finish for a mere two seconds.
His valiant effort didn’t go unrewarded, as at the end of the day Cattaneo moved up one position in the general classification, making him the highest ranked Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider: “I tried to give my best today, as the objective was to fight for the stage victory, but in the end I began feeling the effort in the legs. It was a very tough day from the start and you could see how difficult it was to make it into the break, but I was determined to be there because I like going on the attack. When things became really hard on the last ascent I dosed my effort carefully and rode at my own tempo, which helped. To be tenth in the standings is nice and it would be great to finish there, but it’s still a long way to go so I will continue to take it one day at a time.”
Points classification leader Mark Cavendish made it home safely – protected by several of his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates – and will wear the green jersey, which he won a decade ago, for the 36th time in his career.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images