Team BikeExchange leader Michael Matthews found himself caught out with some bad luck due to crashes in today’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, after a large pile-up occurred ahead of the Kwaremont climb, leaving the Australian outfit on the back foot.
Despite the team’s efforts early on with both Robert Stannard and Alex Edmondson marshalling and following key moves, the race then suddenly turned itself around for the squad after the touch down at an important moment saw three Team BikeExchange riders caught out.
Thanks to Luka Mezgec and teammates, Matthews was quickly back into the main bunch, however the team suffered more misfortune with Edmondson the next rider to go down at the base of the climb which caused further disruption.
Ahead the race favourites began launching attacks over the top of Kwaremont with Matthews fighting to get back up to the front, chasing hard but to no avail as the race winning move established itself ahead.
The 30-year-old Australian was left in the third group on the road and had take 21st place, after what was another typical chaotic day at the ‘Ronde’.
“Everything seemed to be going to plan up until the second run-in to the Kwaremont. With about 10km before there was a crash on the left side which I was involved in, then we had to chase to get back and then we caught another crash basically at the bottom of the Kwaremont.
I had super good legs which is really disappointing, I kept coming back all the time but second time up the Kwaremont, if you’re not at the front with the front guys it is a difficult race from there.
I just kept trying to fight and get my way back into the race but in the end, I ended up in the third group, so I am definitely disappointed with the legs that I had today. I think the result should have been much better.”
Mat Hayman – Sport Director
“Before the Kwaremont we were involved in a crash but that was no problem and Michael (Matthews) got back easily but then there was a crash at the bottom which involved Alex Edmondson and next thing we know we are chasing in the second group.
“We were pretty much chasing from there until the finish. The guys rallied around Michael to try and get him back in the race but when the favourites of the race are attacking on the Kwaremont and you’re still chasing, it is always going to be tough to get back into the race.”
2021 Ronde van Vlaanderen Results:
1. Kasper Asgreen 6:02:12
2. Mathieu van der Poel ST
3. Greg van Avermaet +0:32
21. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +2:15
Photos courtesy of Getty Images