Matthews second on stage 8 of the Vuelta a EspanaSat 30 Aug 2014
Michael Matthews has finished second in a messy sprint on stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon.
On a day where crosswinds threatened to shake up general classification, ORICA-GreenEDGE also successfully protected Esteban Chaves to finish in the front group and maintain fifth position overall.
After a strong lead out in the final kilometre from Mitch Docker, Matthews was perfectly placed on the wheel of stage winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) for the final kick.
A last moment shift in line by Bouhanni hampered the final efforts of Matthews and despite a team conversation with the commissaires, the 24-year-old accepted second position.
“The final worked out the way I wanted it to up until about 15-25metres to go,” Matthews, who won stage three earlier this week, said.
“Mitch (Docker) gave me a good lead out to string the bunch so I didn’t get swamped, then Bouhanni hit out from about 200m and I got on his wheel.
“I went to come around him but unfortunately a small movement in the final when you are going that speed washes off a lot of speed. I had to stop pedaling when he gave the little flick but that’s racing.
“We wanted to see what the commissaires said. We thought it was a bit touch and go but it’s their opinion that counts and we can only try.
“Unfortunately they made the decision, I was second place and we have to go with that.”
Sport director Neil Stephens said the result was frustrating but that the team would immediately turn their attention to the next opportunity.
“The race organisers had already asked the commissaires to review the finish when I arrived. I reviewed it with them and in my mind it confirmed our doubts,” Stephens said.
“They were split two against two as to what the decision should be. In the end they said it was a difficult decision but that they would award the stage to Bouhanni.
“That’s racing, it’s a difficult decision and we just have to respect the commissaires. We will just fight to win a stage another day.”
In the day's main aim, Stephens was again pleased with the support of young Colombian Chaves through a risky day.
“As in everyday, the main objective was to look after Esteban in his general classification hopes,” Stephens said.
“Albecete is famous for its crosswinds and it played up to that.
“It was a tricky day and for someone like Esteban it is really quite difficult. But as he said with the full commitment of the guys around him, it made a tough job easy.”
Tomorrow, the Vuelta a Espana offers it’s second mountain top finish of 2014. The 185km route from Carboneras de Guadazaon to Aramon Valdelinares tackles three categorised climbs, the first a category three starting at the 106km mark and the final sequential category two and one climbs in the final 25kms.