Paris-Nice Prologue: Michael Matthews Best Placed for ORICA-GreenEDGEMon 4 Mar 2013
Michael Matthews posted the quickest time for ORICA-GreenEDGE in the Paris-Nice prologue. With a time seven seconds off the winning mark, Matthews slotted into 23rd place. Michael Albasini, Jens Keukeleire, Baden Cooke and Simon Clarke all finished in the top-third of the field as well.
“I wasn’t expecting us to be up there in the prologue,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “All of our times are hanging around near each other, and when I think about the week, I feel that this shows we are near where we need to be for the rest of the race.”
Damien Gaudin (Europcar) pulled off a surprise win to beat out Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) for the stage victory. The young Frenchman covered the 2.9 kilometre course in 3:37.
“This was a special course,” noted Lapage. “There were many dangerous corners and only short straight lines. It was a course well-suited to pursuiters and certain types of sprinters.”
“The most important thing for a prologue is to ride the course over and over and over again,” added Lapage. “A rider must know the lines he needs to ride and how to best take each corner. It is impossible to accurately check out a prologue when the course is open to traffic. Today, the course was open from 12.15 until 13.45, and each of the riders had time to do the course at least ten times.”
With Guadin crowned race leader following today’s effort, the peloton is set to tackle the first stage of racing.
“Tomorrow is a long stage, and the roads are very open,” said Lapage. “We expect strong winds that could reach up to 30 kilometres/hour coming from the east. There’s a big chance that it will be a bunch sprint, so our leader tomorrow will be Leigh [Howard].”