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After being beaten by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on Thursday, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) timed his sprint perfectly Saturday to win the eighth stage ahead of a disappointed Matthews.
“I don’t think I made a mistake today,” Matthews said. “I did everything I could. There was just a stronger rider in the bunch today. I wouldn’t take anything back.”
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BikeExchange-Jayco worked at the front all day to make sure a three-rider breakaway was caught before the grinding uphill finale in Lausanne.
It was eerily similar to the finish on Thursday, when Pogačar pipped Matthews for the win.
“Two days ago I waited too long, and I went too early this time. Wout was just better today. I did my best today and the team rode a great race,” he said. “Second again. I still hope to get that before the race hits Paris.”
BikeExchange-Jayco has already won one stage with Dylan Groenewegen, and was hoping to pull off another win with Matthews in this first week.
“The boys rode very, very well today. We wanted to give Michael the best possible chance of winning today. It was a real team effort, and we have to walk away proud from that effort,” said sport director Matt White. “Wout van Aert is a very special athlete, and we gave it our best, and that’s all you can do.”
Two second places hurt, but against the likes of Pogačar and Van Aert, Matthews tries to take some consolation.
“To be second to Wout is not too bad,” Matthews said. “It was a hard day. The team did an amazing job again. The guys positioned me at the bottom of the climb, and it was up to me to finish it off.
“It was around 200m to go, so I was hoping to get a bit of a jump but I just wasn’t good enough. I tried not to think about how my legs felt,” he said. “My wife was at the finish today and she came from Monaco, and I wanted to get the win for her today.”
Matthews is still hoping to return to the winner’s circle at the Tour for the first time since 2017. Saturday was a last best chance.