Michael Matthews Keeps Maglia Rosa After Neutralised Stage FourTue 13 May 2014
Michael Matthews debuted the maglia rosa in Italy on stage four of the Giro d’Italia. It was dumping rain in Giovinazzo at the start of the 112 kilometre stage. The peloton elected to neutralise the race in response to safety concerns, and the officials responded in kind, taking time for the general classification at the start of the final lap (8.3 kilometres) of the city centre circuit in Bari.
Following the meticulous work down by his teammates to keep him safe in the bunch, Matthews sat up at the start of the final lap with the guarantee of bunch time. Those with an interest in the sprint or the points classification weren’t afforded the same luxury and contested the finale. Multiple crashes marred the last lap, underscoring the peloton’s safety concerns, before Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) outsprinted Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Veelers (Giant-Shimano).
Matthews finished on bunch time in 49th place alongside Pieter Weening and Brett Lancaster. With time bonuses removed, the general classifications remains unaltered. Matthews remains atop the leader’s board with an eight second advantage over Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step). Daniel Oss (BMC) is two seconds further back in third overall.
COMMENTS FROM MATT WHITE:
It was raining on the start line. We’re in this part of Italy where the roads are very slippery. The organisers decided to make a decision when we got onto the circuit about the race. Riders had decided to neutralise up until the circuit.
It had dried out when we got to the circuit, and racing was on in earnest initially. When it started to rain again, half of the course was very wet while the other half was mostly dry. As we saw in the final, the roads were very slippery, and that was the main concern. The race was neutralised yet again.
The officials made the very prudent decision to stop the time at one lap. They would not give out any time bonus at the finish line, and any rider that made it to the start of the last lap in the bunch would get bunch time. This didn’t change the dynamics of the race for us. It just moved our job forward by about 8.3 kilometres – the length of a lap.
We did not contest the sprint. It was always going to be very dangerous, and we didn’t need to take any risks. We have several stages coming up that we’re targeting, and there was no need to participate today given our future goals.
Tomorrow is a stage we have earmarked for Michael Matthews. The only thing we’re unsure about is how long and hard the course is. We haven’t had a chance to recon it given how far it is from us.
We’ll have a chance to look at it with on lap left. The main concern is a section in the last kilometre of the climb where there’s a section with a gradient of eight percent. Is it too hard for Michael Matthews? Normally not – and certainly not on paper. We have options with Ivan Santaromita and Pieter Weening if it is.
COMMENTS FROM MICHAEL MATTHEWS
We kept the jersey today, which was the main goal. The team rode perfectly to keep things controlled under some rather difficult road conditions.
Tomorrow will be a very different stage with a lot more climbing. I’ll do my best to be up there – that’s the least I can do to repay the hard week they’ve done since day one. The most important thing is that the jersey stays within the team.