Matthews retains red and claims green on Vuelta a Espana stage 4

Tue 26 Aug 2014

Multiple grand tour stage winner Michael Matthews has retained the red race leader’s jersey and claimed the green sprinter’s jersey with a third place on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana.

After another dedicated day from the entire ORICA-GreenEDGE team, Matthews entered the sprint on eventual winner John Degenkolb’s (GIA) wheel but got caught up amongst a hectic finish, recovering to take the minor placing.

Following his stage win yesterday the 23-year-old’s overall lead extends to eight seconds, his nearest rival Nairo Quintana from Movistar.

“It was definitely a hard stage with the final category two climb with about 25km to go,” Matthews said.

“My team rode awesome again today, they did everything they could for me and got me in the right position in the final but it was a little bit hectic in the finish.

“I would have liked to have won today, it’s a course that suited me and I would have liked to have done the double but that’s racing and the bonus is that we keep the red jersey for another day.

“I expected Degenkolb to be there today he is obviously climbing really well and I knew it would be a drag race between him and I, but a couple of guys got between us in the last few hundred metres and I didn’t quite get there to contest for the win.”

A breakaway of four riders escaped early in the stage, but unlike yesterday their advantage was kept to a minimum on a day where soaring heat posed one of the biggest challenges for the peloton.

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Sam Bewley, Brett Lancaster and Mitch Docker tirelessly took the reins at the front of peloton again and by the first categorised climb of the day, the breakaway’s advantage was negligible.

Back together on the second and final ascent, British neo-pro Adam Yates went with a four-rider move as the peloton crested the climb before their 20second lead was brought back in the final ten kilometers for the reduced bunch kick.

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the commitment shown by the whole team in their designated roles throughout the stage.

“Right from the start they boys had it clear in their mind that there was a chance that we could try for another stage win,” Stephens said.

“And as a side note, that we would probably be able to keep the leader’s jersey too.

“It was a really really hot day, the temperature in the car was saying 42 degrees, and they really did a fantastic job.

“Not only building up to the climbs with our bigger guys again but also later on when the other teams did show a little bit of interest on the climb, Adam Yates, Ivan Santaromita and Cameron Meyer came into their own.

“Then in the final kilometres Simon Clarke was the outstanding rider. He controlled it right down to the finish and by the time he swung off and Santaromita contributed a last effort, Michael was in a fantastic position.

“It was a 100% effort again from the team, a little bit of bad luck coming into the stage finish but that’s bike racing.”