Matthews extends green jersey lead with third on stage five of Paris-NiceFri 13 Mar 2015
Stage three winner Michael Matthews has again inserted himself in the pointy end of racing, finishing third on stage five of Paris-Nice.
After a late catch of the remains of the day’s breakaway, Matthews made his way around wheels in the punchy finale, crossing the line behind Davide Cimolai (Lampre – Merida) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar).
The podium finish also extended the 24-year-old’s grasp on the green sprint classification to a six points lead ahead of Team Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff.
“We spoke about it yesterday and after working so hard at the front to defend yellow yesterday, it was not up to us today to control the race,” sport director Laurenzo Lapage said.
“But as the situation allowed, we competed at the end. The boys moved towards the front with two or three kilometres to go, like they have the previous days and that was perfect for Bling.
“We have extended the lead on the green jersey, hopefully we can get a few more points tomorrow and bring it home on Sunday.”
Immediately into stage three, riders were hit with a category one climb.
Except for a few casualties off the back, the ascent didn’t cause too much damage as a breakaway of five riders gained a two-minute advantage from an all-but full peloton.
Etixx-Quickstep kept patrol at the front of the peloton in defence of the yellow jersey, ensuring the gap remained under four minutes.
With 20km to go, the break held a 90second advantage and the race was officially on as Thomas De Gendt put on his foot on the gas from the front group.
As his breakaway counterparts began to crack, the momentum in the peloton grew and Etixx - Quickstep were joined by Team Sky, ORICA-GreenEDGE and Giant Alpecin in pursuit.
Eventually, De Gendt fell agonisingly short as the vicious remnants of the peloton flew over the top of him in the closing few hundred metres.