Michael Matthews Sprints to Third in SalsomaggioreTue 20 May 2014
ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews started the tenth stage of the Giro d’Italia bruised and battered following a heavy crash on Sunday. Sport Director Matt White had reported it was uncertain if the former maglia rosa would be able to make it to the finish. Matthews surprised. Not only did he finish the stage but he contested the crash-marred finale, sprinting to third behind three-time stage winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing).
“Michael turned himself inside out to get that result,” said White. “He definitely has a lot of discomfort from his crash. The rest day yesterday helped, and today was one of the easier days to nurse the guys through the race. We’ll see if he can get up again tomorrow and go even better.”
Matthews isn’t the only rider on the Australian outfit’s list of walking wounded. Svein Tuft continues to contend with lingering issues related to his crash earlier in the week whilst Luke Durbridge battles illness.
“Svein and Durbo are still struggling,” White admitted. “We’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t 100 percent at the moment, but they continue to give 110 percent. It’s another very pleasing day in that regard.”
The first attack following the stage start in Modena translated into the early breakaway. Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) traded pulls to put time into the bunch. When they stretched their advantage beyond the eight minute mark, BMC and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step took up the chase.
“Today was a relatively easy day,” said White. “We have favorable winds and beautiful temperatures. The break was easy to control, and most teams seemed happy to let the race come down to a bunch sprint. We didn’t have to do much work to achieve our goals. It was a really good day in that regard for our injured guys.”
The chase was initially slow and steady. When the sprint teams came to fore, the demise of the early escape quickly followed. The only climb of the day came just inside the final peloton and served to string out the race-weary peloton.
“We put our guys into position at the bottom of the climb,” said White. “That was the only real bit of work the team had to do today.”
Matthews looked after himself in the sprint. He managed to avoid the late race pile-up that left only a handful of riders in contention for the sprint.
Bouhanni was the first to open the sprint, coming off Nizzolo’s wheel as he charged to the line. Matthews made up a few spots when he unleashed his accelearation but lacked the leg speed to overtake Bouhanni and Nizzolo before reaching the finish.
“We knew from the information we had from the race book and [Assistant Sport Director] Julian [Dean] that the last kilometre was very tight and very technical,” said White. “The boys were just following the instructions they were given this morning by Julian as he overviewed the final form his perception. There’s an element of luck, of course, but if you ride in good position, it certainly helps to stay out of trouble.