Former three-time Vuelta a España stage winner Michael Matthews fought to a close third place on today’s flat and fast road stage, battling it out all the way to the finish line in Burgos to also move himself up the rankings to third place overall.
The 30-year-old was dropped off into the perfect position by teammate Luka Mezgec, before tussling neck-and-neck alongside Jasper Philipsen, Sebastian Molano and Fabio Jakobsen all fighting for the final podium positions.
Earlier on in the day, the threat of crosswinds echoed through the peloton, but with no echelons or real dangerous crosswind sections ever eventuating, the hot 166km stage remained steady before concluding in a pure bunch sprint.
Matthews and Team BikeExchange avoided a pile-up with four and a half kilometres to go as all attention then turned to the sprint, but with no team really taking control in dominating the final two kilometres, Team BikeExchange kept towards the front, ready to unleash Matthews, who was able to take a respectable third place.
After yesterday’s ninth place finish in the time trial and today’s sprint performance, the Australian takes confidence in his form, but with the race heading straight into the mountains for tomorrow’s third stage, there’s plenty of changes to come.
Michael Matthews – 3rd place
“There’s not a massive sprint field here, but the sprinters that are here are fast, so my goal was a top-three, top-five today, so we achieved that.
We expected a harder day, we thought some of the pure sprinters might have been more tired but it ended up being a super easy day, averaging 100bpm heart-rate all day. It was a pretty stock-standard sprint day, so I am happy with the podium and tomorrow is another day.
I think where the boys delivered me today, we can be really confident in our lead-out here. There’s not a massive field of sprint trains here so that makes it a bit easier for us not having a large sprint train so we can just mix it up, take confidence from yesterday’s TT and today’s sprint stage.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director
“We were expecting maybe more action in the crosswinds, so the wind made it a little more nervous all day, everyone was sort of waiting for something to happen but never really happened. It wasn’t maybe as windy or quite as exposed as we were expecting but everybody from our team arrived safe and sound.
It was a good sprint from Michael, he showed some good condition carrying on from yesterday, so we will see what that brings us in the coming weeks.
Straight into the mountains tomorrow, we have a pretty solid eight kilometre climb to the finish with a narrow run-in, so it will be one for the GC guys to try and play their cards.”
2021 La Vuelta a España stage 2 results:
1. Jasper Philipsen 3:58:57
2. Fabio Jakobsen ST
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) ST
General Classifcation after stage 2:
1. Primoz Roglic 4:07:29
2. Alex Aranburu +0:04
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +0:10
Photo courtesy of Getty Images