Matthews finishes fifth at De Brabantse Pijl

Wed 13 Apr 2016

Michael Matthews has finished in fifth place for ORICA-GreenEDGE at De Brabantse Pijl in Belgium today sprinting from the chasing bunch as the race split apart on the final two climbs of the day.

The first race of the Ardennes classics was won by Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quickstep) after a series of strong attacks in the closing kilometres.

ORICA-GreenEDGE had worked tirelessly at the front of the peloton for most of the day, first with Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman and then new signing Cheung King-Lok and Australian neo-pro Jack Haig. However in the finale Matthews was alone and trying to come from behind on the climb to the finish he could not quite make contact with the leaders.

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage was satisfied with the team’s performance.

“It was a tough day out there today,” said Lapage. “We had been spoken about as the favourites before the race and that meant that all the other teams were watching and attacking us so we had to work from the beginning to stay in contention.”

“We had to use a lot of our riders to bring the race back together, we did a good job but it meant that Michael (Matthews) ended up alone in the finale.”

“He did a great job to finish in the top ten, he was trying to gain control in the final kilometres but it’s a very hard course, especially with the two climbs right at the end.”

“Michael is in great shape at the moment,” continued Lapage. “This is good news for the team as we go into an important period of racing with the Ardennes Classics.”

How it happened:

A grey and overcast morning in Leuven welcomed the riders to the start of the 2016 Brabantse Pijl. A route of 205.3kilometres and 26 climbs awaited the riders, some of whom couldn’t wait to get started as a group of five attempted an early escape within the first kilometres. The peloton however did not let anything go until after 30kilometres of racing, four riders, including Oliver Zaugg (IAM-Cycling), managed to form the day’s breakaway and broke free of the bunch.

With 55kilometres covered the group of four had a lead of five minutes 20seconds over the main field. ORICA-GreenEDGE began to take control of the chase over the next 20kilometres. Not wanting to let the escape get too far down the road the Australian team had King Lok alongside Hayman working hard on the front of the peloton.

After 110kilometres the advantage of the leaders had fallen to under three minutes with Team Lotto-Soudal exchanging pulls at the front of the bunch with ORICA-GreenEDGE. As the race ran up and over the cobbled Herstraat sector the advantage of the four leaders continued to fall, with 75kilometres left to race the gap was down to just over one minute. Attacks were beginning to spring from the peloton as numerous riders tried to bridge across to the fading breakaway.

South African time trial champion Daryl Impey followed an attack by four riders and the group came together with the earlier breakaway. The new group of eight developed a lead of 46seconds over the main field. Impey’s manoeuvre gave ORICA-GreenEDGE a few moments of respite from the chase and the team began to focus on marshalling the fresh attacks that were beginning to come at the head of the peloton.

A few kilometres later and Impey attacked from the front of the leader's group, Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) and Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quickstep) went with Impey and the trio began to gain some time on the chasers. With 40kilometres to go and into the final two circuits of the finish town of Overijse there were still three riders up the road including Impey with a gap of around 25seconds on the now fragmented peloton. The front of the race came back together in the next ten kilometres, immediately secondary attacks began to form as the race headed into the final 30kilometres.

There were attacks apiece as the race approached the last ten kilometres of the race, the heavily reduced peloton were strung out behind Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) going into the final climbs. With less than five kilometres to go, on the penultimate climb of the race, Vakoc attacked with teammate Julian Alaphilipe (Etixx-Quickstep). The duo were followed by Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) and Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Group Gobert). The attack completely ruptured the front group, the chasers included Matthews but with only three kilometres left to race and the last climb to come the move looked decisive.

Alaphilipe pulled the lead group of four onto the start of the climb to the finish, peeling off from the front as Vakoc launched a blistering attack with only 500metres to go. Gasparotto and Gallopin gave chase but could not catch Vakoc as he held on for a solo victory. Matthews sprinted to fifth place from the chasing bunch but couldn’t quite make up the ground on the final ascent.

The next race for ORICA-GreenEDGE is in Holland on Sunday the 17th of April at the Amstel Gold Race.


Brabantse Pijl results:

1. Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quickstep) 4:449:35
2. Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Group Gobert) 0:00.06
3. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) 0:00:12
5. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0:00:20