Matthews 12th on a long and slow stage three of the Tour de France

Mon 4 Jul 2016

Michael Matthews crossed the line in 12th place for ORICA-BikeExchange on stage three of the Tour de France today, after battling hard in a finale made for the pure sprinters.

Paris-Nice stage winner Matthews was in a good position going into the final kilometres tucked in behind Matthew Hayman and Daryl Impey.

The technical finish was filled with sharp twists and turns that were being taken at full speed. Paris-Roubaix champion Hayman went down on one of the corners with Matthews jumping wheels to try and retain position.

Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) won the sprint for the line, taking the stage victory with Matthews missing out on the top ten in 12th place.

Fortunately ORICA-BikeExchange’s road captain Hayman didn’t suffer any serious injuries and will live on to fight another day with the team also retaining the lead of the team classification ahead of Team Sky.

Sport director Matt White praised the efforts of the team but is looking forward to tomorrow’s fourth stage, which is well suited to the strengths of the Australian squad.

“It was a long and slow day that was always going to favour the big sprinters,” said White. “The guys did a great job in positioning Michael (Matthews) for the finale, we gave it a go but it was always going to be hard task against the best sprinters in the world.”

“There wont be a day as easy or slow as today throughout the rest of the Tour de France, that’s for sure. It created a very fast and tense finish to the stage and I am pleased that the team all made it through okay.

“We are looking ahead to tomorrow now," continued White. "It is a tough long stage with lots of undulations in the final third. Those are the kind of stages that favour our talents within the team, it’s going to be hard for the pure sprinters with those climbs to contend with.”

How it happened:

ORICA-BikeExchange lined up at the start of stage three kitted out in special edition yellow team helmets to signify their lead of the Tour de France team classification. The stage began in relative tranquility and dry conditions with one rider attacking at the flag drop.

Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital-Concept) was the lone attacker and after 40kilometres of racing he had a lead of just under six minutes on the trundling peloton.

Fonseca pushed his lead out to a maximum of eleven minutes before the peloton began to claw some time back. With 140kilometres remaining the Frenchman’s advantage had fallen to seven minutes.

A long yet predominantly flat stage and the peloton were happy to roll along at 34kmph behind Fonseca, who was holding a lead of around five minutes with less than 100kilometres to go.

Serial breakaway protagonist Thomas Voeckler (Direct-Energie) decided the pace was a little too pedestrian for his liking and duly shot off the front in pursuit of Fonseca with 85kilometres left to race.

Six minutes separated the peloton and Fonseca when Voeckler made his move, immediately gaining two minutes on the bunch the veteran Voeckler reached his compatriot five kilometres later.

Into the final 50kilometres and the sprint trains of Lotto-Soudal, Etixx-Quickstep and Dimension-Data had massed on the front of the bunch and brought the lead of the French duo down to two minutes.

A game of cat and mouse ensued for the next 40kilometres before Voeckler and Fonseca were finally caught inside the last ten kilometres.

Chris Juul Jensen, Impey and Hayman were holding down the positions at the front of the now speeding bunch for ORICA-BikeExchange as the situation began to get hectic.

A select group of around forty riders were off the front approaching the sprint with Matthews in the thick of action on the wheel of Hayman who crashed seconds later.

Matthews jumped to the next wheel and got caught just behind the top ten as the sprint unfolded ferociously with Cavendish just taking the win by a whisker ahead of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

Tomorrow’s stage four covers a massive 237.5 kilometres from Saumur to Limoges. The route resembles that of a tough one-day classic, full of sharp undulations and fast rolling roads before a long and technical final third climbs and dips towards the finish.

Tour de France stage three results:

1. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) 05:59:54
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) ST
3. Bryan Coquard (Direct-Energie) ST
12. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST

General classification after stage three:

1. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 14:34:36
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:08
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:10
12. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:14