Matthews finishes 12th on Vuelta a Espana stage twoSun 24 Aug 2014
Michael Matthews has finished 12th in the bunch sprint on stage two of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon.
The day was tailor made for the pure fast men, with just one category three climb early in the 174.4km stage and a quick run to the line. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) delivered to expectations with the victory.
For ORICA-GreenEDGE, it was the opportunity for some fine-tuning.
“Michael (Matthews) is better suited when the sprint is a bit tougher,” sport director Neil Stephens said.
“Today was super flat and very hectic and the pure sprinters are all still fresh.
“So for us today’s finish was just a bit of an exercise really, a trial run for stages to come and whatever we did on the stage was a bonus.
“It wasn’t a win, it wasn’t close and the boys did a good job but really we are concentrating on a couple of different stages. We knew that the odds were stacked up against us but we had a bit of a go to see how it panned out.”
The protection of Matthews and general classification rider Esteban Chaves was the highest priority on a windy day, the team also aware of the potential to claim the leader’s jersey with good positioning and an stage win early in the Tour.
Matthews currently sits eighth overall, six seconds behind Alejandro Valverde (MOV) who took the lead after today’s stage.
“We had two objectives, making sure we didn’t get caught out in the crosswind and the boys did a good job of protecting both Michael and Esteban and then looking out for Michael a little in the finish.
“I’d really like to win a stage and if we can win a stage and take the lead as well, that’s even better.
“That’s why I asked Michael not to peel off in the team time trial. We wanted to go as fast as we could yesterday but we also knew that if we could stay with that front group and we could take a win in the first few days we could get the jersey.
“It’s a secondary focus though, the first is to try to win a stage.”