Michael Matthews Sprints to Second, Retains Race Lead in SloveniaFri 20 Jun 2014
Michael Matthews started the second stage of Tour de Slovénie in the yellow leader’s jersey after winning the opening time trial on Thursday evening. He was outspoken about his ambition to earn back-to-back wins and stay in yellow. Mission partially accomplished. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF) snagged stage glory while Matthews sprinted in for second. The result was good enough to allow Matthews to stay in yellow with two days down and two days still to race.
The early action was a straightforward affair. Four riders formed the break of the day. ORICA-GreenEDGE immediately sent troops to the front to control.
“The four went right at the start,” explained Sport Director Matt Wilson. “We had a couple guys ride immediately on the front to control. Jens Mouris and Leigh Howard were the obvious choice. They wouldn’t get over the climb in the bunch anyway, so it made sense to use them here.”
Whilst setting tempo on a technical descent, Mouris crashed out of the race. He escaped relatively unscathed from the incident given how hard he hit the ground.
“There’s nothing broken,” said Wilson. “He crashed by himself quite hard. He lost a lot of skin and has a lot of lumps and bad bruises.”
With Mouris out, Brett Lancaster assumed a place at the head of the peloton. He worked with Howard to keep the breakaway in check into the base of the category one climb that was projected to cause major splits in the bunch.
“We know the climb from racing her last year,” said Wilson. “It’s a hard climb. What we didn’t know was how hard the race would go up the climb or how many guys would get over the top.”
Twenty riders made the elite selection. Matthews and Simon Yates were amongst the leading group.
“A few guys come back on the descent,” said Wilson. “The group expanded before the finish. Bardiani had five riders – including one guy that they obviously thought was fast enough to win the stage – so they controlled the race on the final circuits. Because we only two riders, it was a bit lucky for us that they controlled things. Of course it wasn’t quite so lucky that they beat us.”
Colbrelli edged out Matthews for win in the reduced bunch sprint. Grega Bole (Vini Fantini Nippo) rounded out the stage podium. Simon Yates finished on bunch time in 23rd place and remains in the best young rider jersey ahead of Simone Petilli (Area Zero Pro) and Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida).