Matthews top five on stage 19 of Vuelta a EspanaFri 12 Sep 2014
Multiple grand tour stage winner Michael Matthews has sprinted to fifth on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana this afternoon.
Matthews, who won stage three of this year’s tour, finished amongst a select front group five seconds behind late solo escapee Australian Adam Hansen (LTB).
Today’s stage was the last opportunity for the team to support the 23-year-old in a second stage win attempt.
“The boys did a decent job, everyone was where they had to be,” sport director Neil Stephens said of the team’s efforts.
“But Adam Hansen was bloody great, he got off the front and as soon as he went we knew it was going to be difficult to bring it back. Adam Yates tried, he had to be there for the final and he was, but it was really very difficult to do anything about it.
“It was the last chance for us to pull off a stage win with Michael unless he puts his time trial legs on.
“We sat around last night and had a bit of a chat and said that even though it was a couple of weeks ago now that we had a very successful start of the Vuelta and we have done some further good work throughout the tour, let’s really try to finish on a high note and give it a last crack.”
Much like yesterday’s stage, it required an energy zapping effort to make the day’s breakaway with the peloton refusing to letting anything of size or major threat off the front.
Eventually a trio of riders stretched the elastic but were never able to fully break it, kept at an advantage of just three minutes for most of the day. With 20km to race and just before the final classified climb of the day, the race was back together.
Attacks on the climb were unsuccessful and as the race started looking set for a select bunch sprint, Hansen took advantage of the hesitation of the surviving sprint outfits and escaped three kilometres from the line.
Tomorrow, the penultimate day of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, is back to the tougher mountains and will be one most likely battled out by the general classification contenders.