Matthews back to his best on Tour of Alberta stage twoThu 3 Sep 2015
2015 Paris-Nice green jersey winner Michael Matthews has returned to the winners list, sprinting to a narrow victory on stage two of the Tour of Alberta.
The Canadian stage race marks a return to racing for Matthews, who completed his debut Tour de France with broken ribs in July.
The 24-year-old benefited from the heavy effort of his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates in the closing stages of the race, firstly to shut down a late breakaway attempt and then in the final lead out.
After yesterday’s narrow defeat in the team time trial, bonus seconds from today’s victory move Matthews into the overall lead by ten seconds from Marco Coledan (Trek Factory Racing).
“It’s really nice to be back on the bike and feel like a professional rider again after the Tour de France and not really being able to animate the race,” Matthews said.
“We didn’t quite nail the team time trial yesterday so we didn’t have ambitions to help Trek during the stage. We played our cards on hoping they would bring the break back and from about five kilometres to go we took control of the bunch.
“From then on it was just perfection really, the guys totally nailed it. We had a plan and they really executed it, even with the twisty roads and a lot of rain.
“I wouldn’t say I was flying but it was my first opportunity to open up in a sprint like that in a while. It was little bit foreign but I just had to take the confidence in my form at the moment.”
Sport director Dave McPartland credited the way the team handled and bounced back from a disappointing narrow loss yesterday.
“It’s a credit to all of the guys how quickly they turned things around and knuckled down today,” McPartland said. ”They pulled off one of the best lead outs they have done and they got the reward they deserve.”
“It was a pretty clear and simple plan and it went to plan today. We had numbers in the finish and they were able to execute really well.”
How it happened:
In cold and wet conditions, the first breakaway of the 2015 Tour of Alberta formed 20km into the second stage.
Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon18), Phil O'Donnell (Axeon), Ben Perry (Silber) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (Lupus) rode off the front of the peloton but never looked too dangerous, the bunch keeping them at just three minutes advantage.
Trek Factory Racing had a duel interest at the head of the peloton, working to protect their overall lead and set up their sprinter. Additional teams joined them and with eight kilometres remaining the full break has been swallowed up by a raging bunch.
A secondary move of five riders also tried their luck as a late attack but ORICA-GreenEDGE sent some of its horsepower to the front, including Canadian Svein Tuft, to shut it down.
From there, the Australian outfit could be seen on the head of the race, leading into the final corner and launching Matthews to the line.
Finishing with speed, Giant Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt was a narrow second place whilst Alexey Tsatevoch (Team Katusha) rounded out the podium.
The Tour of Alberta continues tomorrow with a lumpy stage three to Jasper National Park.