Chris Froome of Great Britain regained the yellow jersey in the Tour de France on Saturday by pulling away from chief rival Fabio Aru of Italy in the final 500 meters to finish seventh in Stage 14, which was won by Michael Mathews of Australia in Rodez, France.
Aru, who took yellow from Froome two days earlier, was poorly placed when the peleton broke apart approaching the finish and fell 19 seconds back in the individual standings.
"If you'd said to me this morning I would take 25 seconds from Aru on this finish, I wouldn't have believed you," said Froome, who has won the Tour de France three of the last four years. "We knew the finish would be selective but I didn't expect to be taking these margins off some of the contenders. It was very technical, it was important to be at the front. I didn't know where Fabio was, but my teammate Michal Kwiatkowski was shouting at me to go, because there were big gaps everywhere.
"It was important to come to the climb without having made any big efforts; it was a very technical finish with lots of road furniture, it was important to be at the front taking perfect lines. It's still so close at the top. I have to regard all of the riders within a minute as a threat. At this point we are fighting for every second."
Froome, leader of Team Sky, also gained valuable seconds on rivals such as Romain Bardet of France, Simon Yates of Great Britain and Nairo Quintana of Colombia. The overall standings remain tight, with 29 seconds separating the first four of Froome, Aru, Bardet and Rigoberto Uran of Colombia.
The sprint to the finish was intense between Greg van Avermaet of Belgium, who won the stage to Rodez in 2015, and Matthews, who gained valuable ground in his battle for the green points jersey with Marcel Kittel of Germany, who could not hang on when the pace increased with 45 kilometers remaining.
Matthews went around Olympic champion van Avermaet with 60 meters left and beat him to the finish line.
The standings could shift again on Sunday in Stage 15, which will cover 189.5 kilometers from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Gorges de l'Allier, with two first-category climbs included before and after the challenging roads of Lozere and Haute Loire.