Matthews moves into pink after Giro d'Italia stage two

Sun 10 May 2015

The coveted ‘Maglia Rosa’ has switched hands amongst ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates as Michael Matthews sprinted to seventh place on the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in Genova today.

Matthews will line up in pink as the race leader for tomorrow’s third stage, having finished ahead of 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans, who took first honours following yesterday’s team time trial victory.

It will be the 24-year-old’s second consecutive year as a leader of the Italian Grand Tour, having claimed the jersey in similar fashion from Canadian Svein Tuft last year.

“It’s an honour to be back in the pink jersey,” Matthews said. “I didn’t quite have the legs to go with the pure sprinters in the final but it was our goal to keep the pink jersey as long as possible and we have achieved it for two days now.”

“To do it a second time is even more special and I can’t thank my team enough for their work.

“It was always the plan for me to go for the sprint today and take the jersey and after the stage Simon said he had a really nice day in jersey but he is happy for me take it now.”

With just one category four climb over 50km from the finish, on paper the first road stage looked set for a bunch sprint.

Five riders formed the move of the day in the opening kilometres of the 177km stage without any resistance from the peloton.

At its greatest, the gap from Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo – Vini Fantini), Eugert Zhupa (Southeast) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) reached almost ten minutes.

ORICA-GreenEDGE took their position at the head of the peloton in defense of the pink jersey, later joined by the efforts of Tinkoff-Saxo. With 50km left to race, the gap was reduced to just three and a half minutes.

With the break in sight the bunch began to get nervous resulting in a number of crashes. One involved ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Hepburn but he was able to remount and complete the stage.

The break was reeled back in ahead of the start of the nine kilometre finishing lap, the peloton briefly split in two courtesy of one of the crashes.

In the final kilometre, Matthews was brought up the front by Brett Lancaster but the pair were swept from behind, Elia Viviani (Team Sky) the day’s eventual winner.

“It was a stressful day, it was a nervous day, it was always going to be on a city circuit final,” sport director Matthew White said.

“All our guys are OK, Michael Hepburn was involved in a crash but it looks like nothing too dangerous and we still have the Maglia Rosa.

“It was a good sprint from Michael, but there are other stages in the race that suit us a lot better.”

Tomorrow’s stage three is a short 136km trip from Rapallo to Sestri Levante. The peloton will negotiate an early category three climb and then a category two with just over 40km to finish with a series of smaller ascents in between before a flat run in to the finish.