Matthews repeats second place at De Brabantse PijlWed 15 Apr 2015
2015 Paris-Nice stage winner Michael Matthews has repeated his 2014 efforts at De Brabantse Pijl, sprinting to second place in Belgium today.
Matthews won the sprint from a chase that fell agonisingly short of catching surviving breakaway rider Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) who won solo. BMC Racing teammate and last year’s winner ahead of Matthews, Philippe Gilbert, rounded out the podium.
ORICA-GreenEDGE worked hard throughout the day, shutting down an original break of three before Matthews was left to negotiate the final with the surviving peloton.
“We knew we had the favourite for the day,” sport director Laurenzo Lapage said. “So we had a meeting last night and decided to control the race.”
“The team did a really good job of ensuring Michael didn’t have to work until the final. He had a really good last climb, he was only beaten by someone who started it in front of him.
“You see how much space he put on Gilbert. So thinking about Amstel on the weekend, today will give him more and more confidence and we believe in him.”
At the start of the day a number of combinations tried to shape the day’s racing, including a large group of 20 riders, but none were deemed acceptable to an alert peloton and racing stayed together.
Eventually Thomas DeGendt (Lotto Soudal), Alex Kirsch (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne – Seche Environnement) – escaped off the front to form the main move.
The trio worked to a maximum advantage of almost four minutes, but never looked threatening as ORICA-GreenEDGE and BMC Racing shared duties at the fore of the peloton.
As they crossed the finish line for the start of three 23.4km finishing laps, the margin was down to two-minutes 15seconds. Shortly after Kirsch was dropped and the gap began to tumble, all back together with 40km left to race.
BMC Racing sent Hermans up the road with David Tanner (IAM Cycling) and as the pair entered the final 15km of racing they held a 24second advantage to a group of ten and 38seconds to the peloton.
Tanner lost contact and attacks launched from the peloton as they closed the chase in pursuit of the leader, Hermans just holding off to claim the victory.