Matthews sprints to Milano-Sanremo podiumSun 22 Mar 2015
2015 Paris-Nice stage and points classification winner Michael Matthews has sprinted to a podium position at the first Classic of 2015, the Milano-Sanremo, in Italy today.
After 293km in the saddle, the longest race on the calendar, Matthews arrived at the finale with a reduced bunch of just 40riders and worked his way to third in a blanket finish behind John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha).
ORICA-GreenEDGE went in with high ambitions for Matthews and despite achieving the desired podium result, the 24-year-old was a little disappointed not to claim a higher step at one of cycling’s great ‘monument’ races.
“It was a pretty cold and wet day today but we did what we had to do,” Matthews said after the finish. “The ORICA-GreenEDGE team supported me really well.”
“As you could see on the Cipressa and Poggio climbs I had really good legs today so I am a little bit disappointed in the final.
“I guess I have got to believe that it’s Milano-Sanremo and it’s my first attempt at going for a result here, so I have to be positive about that. I'm really thankful for the team in believing in me and helping me deliver this result.”
Sport director Matt White was more positive about the whole team’s performances at one of the world’s biggest one-day races.
“As a team we are very happy with the result,” White said. “We had a target of a podium and we have achieved that and you can’t take anything away from the way the boys rode.”
“They committed to looking after Bling (Matthews) and he had a good sprint. At the end of the day Kristoff and Degenkolb are great sprinters and you have to be happy with a result like this at Milano-Sanremo.”
Eleven riders formed the day’s major breakaway, establishing an advantage of over ten minutes in the first 40km of racing.
The gap had reduced to just five minutes as the peloton entered the final 100km and again to two minutes 30seconds with 50km remaining.
The successive hills in the final 50km saw the demise of the break after a long day in front and by the Capo Berta climb just four remained, but with under one minute advantage to a chasing peloton.
Matteo Bono (Lampre Merida) began the penultimate Cipressa climb as a solo leader as a nervous peloton, marred by a number of crashes, swept up his former breakaway companions. Half way up the ascent the race was back together and the much-anticipated attacks began.
The major move of the finale involved Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team), as the duo quickly established a threatening 30second lead after the Cipressa. As the peloton reacted to close, Thomas attacked solo heading in the famous last climb of the Poggio only to be captured shortly after.
Matthews crested the top of the final climb safely in fourth wheel as the heavily reduced bunch began the technical descent toward the finish and prepared for the impending final kick on the Via Roma.