After a nail-biting sprint finish didn’t go his way, John Degenkolb took umbrage with Michael Matthews Tuesday. Matthews said Degenkolb grabbed him after stage 16’s finish.
“I was waiting for the result and he grabbed me on the way past,” said Sunweb’s double stage winner Matthews. “The officials saw it. We’ll see what the officials will do about it.”
In the sprint, Trek-Segafredo’s Degenkolb tried to pass Matthews on the right, along the barriers. The Aussie shut the door on his German rival, but it looked to be a clean sprint. Immediately after the line, Degenkolb waved his arm in anger. The sprint was so close that Matthews couldn’t tell if he’d beaten Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), who had closed fast on the other side.
Based on Degenkolb’s angry reaction, it seems he knew he’d lost the sprint. “Clearly I came with more speed than him from his wheel, and he saw me on the right side and closed the gap on the right side,” Degenkolb said. “That made me stop the sprint to sprint for the victory.”
“I don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike,” Matthews added. “From my perspective, I don’t think I did anything wrong. I didn’t change my line, I sprinted in a straight line.
“I’m not sure what was wrong with Degenkolb, but that’s up to him.”
Degenkolb’s team filed an official complaint with officials after the sprint.
“You know, it’s just in the heat of the situation,” Degenkolb added. “You are obviously very angry if you cannot go for the victory. For me it’s very clear. You see he is going off his line into my line. You can see it on television.”
Speaking to a journalist from Australian publication Ride, Matthews went a step further, characterizing Degenkolb’s post-stage jab as a punch.
Shortly after the finish, the race jury had not issued any sort of penalty for the incident. The stage result was unchanged with Matthews the winner.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Gregor Brown and Barnaby Chesterman contributed to this report.