Fourth for Matthews as two riders stay away to the line in the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France

Sun 28 Aug 2016

Tour de France stage winner Michael Matthews sprinted to fourth place today in the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France as two leading riders held off the charge from the peloton to claim the top two steps of the podium.

A furious pace was set in the final 15kilometres of the one-day race with ORICA-BikeExchange working hard to reel in a trio of leaders hovering around the one-minute mark.

In a very unpredictable close final, Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) successfully held off the reduced bunch to claim the victory.

“It was a totally different parcours today except for the final lap,” explained sport director Matt White. “It was pretty average weather and the bunch really disintegrated in the final, usually a lot more guys get to the line and can help with the chasing.”

“I thought with five kilometres to go when the gap was down to 25seconds that we would have a chance to catch the two riders once we got onto the last climb.

"So chapeau to those two guys who held off the bunch, that was a super ride to hang on for the win and a little bit more unpredictable this year.

“Michael rode well today, it is his first race in a month since the Prudential RideLondon and if it all goes well I think it will be a really good finish to the season for him.

“He should be very competitive in Canada and I know he is very motivated for the World Championships. Overall it was a good race from all the boys here today.”

How it happened:

The one-day WorldTour race began once again in Plouay however, for the 2016 edition of the race the riders headed out on to a large 233kilometre loop before returning to the start/finish line in Plouay for one 13.9kilometre finihsing lap.

Within the first hour of racing a group of eight riders established the main breakaway of the day, working well together to increase their advantage to six-minutes.  

As the kilometres ticked down the weather began to deteriorate with rain beginning to fall and the wind increasing. Team Katusha and Trek-Segafredo headed to the front of the peloton and began to set the tempo slowly reeling in the leaders, eventually bringing them back into sight with just 30kilometres to go. 

At this point the action really began to start, Carlos Verona along with a few other riders then bridged across to the lead group and picked up the pace to once again to increase the time gap.

With such a high tempo being set over the undulating terrain, the chasing peloton remained in one strung out line hovering behind the new lead group.

More attacks came from the chasing peloton as Michael Albasini jumped into the another move, quickly riding across to join teammate Verona. 

With the situation continuously changing and tired legs spread throughout the peloton, three riders picked a perfect moment and jumped away from the group of 15.

The remaining riders from the front group were immediately swallowed up by the peloton and as the race passed the 20kilometres to go mark the trio had a time gao of one-minute.

Paris-Roubaix winner Matthew Hayman was next to launch into a chasing group which quickly gainied ground on the trio of leaders, however, the escapees maintained their advantage and Hayman's group were eventually joined once again by the reduced peloton.

In the final seven kilometres ORICA-BikeExchange came to the fore and rapidly closed in on the leaders, the time gap dropped significantly but in the end it proved too late and the duo of Naesen and Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) crossed the line just ahead of the peloton to claim the top two spots.

Matthews sprinted to second in the bunch kick to give ORICA-BikeExchange fourth place.

Bretagne Classic Ouest-France results:

1. Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) 5:58:46

2. Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) ST

3. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) ST

4. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST