Tour of Spain – Stage 2


Michael Matthews caps off inspirational team performance to outsprint Dan Martin to win stage three of the Vuelta a España and move into the red race leader’s jersey

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Tour of Spain – Stage 2

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Matthews’ ORICA-GreenEDGE team punished themselves on the front of the peloton for the entire stage to bring back an early breakaway and position the 23-year-old in the punchy, uphill final. “I’m just so happy that I got to finish off for them,” Matthews said of his teammates.

Vuelta_St2_Matthews wins

Photo: La Vuelta a España

“It makes the win so much sweeter to be able to win when your whole team has absolutely smashed themselves for you. “We thought it was going to be a bit more of a reduced bunch at the finish. The heat was the main factor today and then the climb in the final was very hard but I had the team to put me in the perfect position and from there it was up to me to deliver for them.”

Sport director Neil Stephens echoed Matthews’ sentiments. “This is one of the best collective wins this team has ever had and I have ever seen,” Stephens said after the race. “A lot of the other teams said afterwards that we really did deserve the win today and I think that’s the biggest credit you can get as a team. Once we started working for the stage, we had to bite off a fair bit.”

“A lot of the other teams were disinterested or knew that we were one of the favourites for the stage and they passed the work onto us. About half way through, we had spent so much energy to get that far we really just had to spend a little bit more and that was basically everyone we had”.

“The three big guys, Mitch (Docker), Brett (Lancaster) and Sam (Bewley), I didn’t think they would get through to the finish at all but not only did they get there, they were riding on the front in an unbelievable manner the whole day. Big hats off to those guys and the others guys who put in their bit going up and down for water all day and working a bit later in the stage so Michael could take the victory.”

The victory was Matthews’ third Vuelta a España stage win, following victories on stage five and 21 in 2013, and his second leader’s jersey for the season after he wore the Giro d’Italia maglia rosa for six days in May. “It is definitely a dream come true,” Matthews said of 2014. “I didn’t expect to have any Grand Tour leader’s jerseys this year and now I have two from both of the three-week races I’ve done. I still can’t believe it, I am definitely going to have to pinch myself tonight.”

Earlier in the stage, a breakaway of five riders – Danilo Wyss (BMC), Luis Mas Bonet (CJR), Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM), Jérôme Cousin (EUC) and Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN) – established from the flag. By 50km, the gap had rapidly reached eight minutes when ORICA-GreenEDGE put Bewley, Lancaster and Docker on the front of the peloton and began to rein them in.

With contributions on the final classified climb by Adam Yates, Cameron Meyer and Ivan Santamorita, the race was back together with 25km to ride. A solo attempt by Australian Adam Hansen (LTB) was unsuccessful with 13km to go, before the peloton wound up for the final kilometer climb to the finish.

Katusha’s Giampaolo Caruso was the first to fire but was caught with 200m to ride by Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin. Matthews was hot on his wheel and too fast in a final effort to the line. The Vuelta a España continues with stage four tomorrow, a 164.7km journey from Mairena Del Alcor to Cordoba with a 3rd and 2nd category climb in the final 60km.

Frustration for Dan Martin
Chasing Caruso down and then sprinting for the line, it looked for a moment that Dan Martin was going to add to his impressive palmeres another Grand Tour stage but on the left of the TV screen came ‘Bling’ Matthews who nicked the win from Dan. “Obviously getting second again is frustrating,” Martin told the Irish Times afterwards.

“I have been second a fair few times in the last year now, and to miss out again is hard. I felt good all day and the guys did an incredible job for me. I reckon I must have had 15 to 20 bottles, drinking 10, 12 litres of water during the day,” he said.


Photo: La Vuelta a España

“It was really hot out there, 40 degrees, and you saw the effects of that in the final. It wasn’t that hard of a finish but the group was decimated. Personally I was still feeling really, really fresh, and even at the finish line I felt good. It is just that Bling (Matthew) is faster than me. I maybe needed a bit steeper climb to get rid of him, but that is the way it is. Obviously the legs are good and we will move on.”

Bad Luck for Movistar
A grab for a mussette by Adriano Malori less than 20k to go in the race took down the race leader Valverde and his teammates, hitting the Movistar team hard. While they still have Quintana in second place, Valverde took a blow to his back in the crash but was able to get back on his bike quickly and resume his place in the bunch.

The incident took Valverde out of position however on a really fast approach to the finish and he lost seven seconds in the fight for the stage. Alejandro Valverde “One of the team-mates in front of me crashed while trying to pick up a musette and I went to the ground, too. More than sliding along the ground, it was a sharp blow, with no bruises”

“I hit a team-mate’s bike and hit my back, but I recovered and carried on. I started the climb well behind and because of that, I’m happy only losing the time I lost. Seven seconds is nothing. My back hurts a bit after the crash, but I hope it’s not serious and I can recover well. I’m not feeling really sad after losing the jersey – it was more that I wanted to win this stage. I couldn’t, but this is cycling, things like that happen and we must carry on.”


Photo: La Vuelta a España

Third for Rodriguez
Stage 3’s slightly uphill finish helped improve Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez’ overall position after he was third. “Though the final of the race did not suit us perfectly, our team took the race on. Caruso was strong and it’s a pity that he just missed the win. Maybe I could have tried something but that’s hard to say afterwards.”

Caruso who was seen on TV romping away from the rest until parking up within sight of the line explained “The initial plan was that Kolobnev and I would pull the last 1.5 kilometres for Dani and Purito, but when I accelerated, I looked back and saw the gap. Of course at that point I gave my all to try for the win. It’s a pity that I missed by less than 100 meters, but I can be happy about my condition.”

Cadel Evans sixth
Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team finished sixth on Monday’s uphill finish at the Vuelta a España and moved into 15th place overall, one spot behind teammate Samuel Sánchez, who finished 12th on the day. “I did not arrive well-positioned into the bottom of the climb, but what I had in my legs I managed to get on the road,” Evans said.

“I think in a couple of days, I will start feeling better as some of the sprinter guys get tired and I will be able to aim higher. I am going OK, but have quite a bit of room for improvement. So we will see in the next few days.”

Wyss In The Breakaway


Photo: La Vuelta a España
BMC’s Danilo Wyss was part of a five-rider breakaway who led by as much as eight minutes before Matthews’ ORICA-GreenEDGE squad headed the pursuit. Wyss said he knew going into the day that there was a small chance to get to the finish, as the Movistar Team of past race leader Alejandro Valverde opted not to defend his lead. “When I saw the gap come down to five minutes, I knew it would be really hard,” Wyss said. “It was hot, and yesterday and today were some hard days. But I think it was a bit better to be in the break. I could get some bottles and refresh myself.”

Today’s stage 4 features two climbs slightly bigger than yesterday’s but a final 20 km run to the finish line that is more or less flat. The 173 km stage begins in Mairena del Alcor and ends in Córdoba.

1. Matthews Michael, Orica GreenEDGE 5:12:14
2. Martin Daniel, Garmin Sharp
3. Rodríguez Joaquim, Team Katusha
4. Kelderman Wilco, Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
5. Martens Paul, Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
6. Evans Cadel, BMC Racing Team
7. Mondory Lloyd, AG2R La Mondiale
8. Bouhanni Nacer,
9. Moreno Daniel, Team Katusha
10. Froome Christopher, Team Sky
11. Uran Rigoberto, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
12. Sánchez Samuel, BMC Racing Team
13. Quintana Nairo, Movistar Team
14. Gesink Robert, Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
15. Arroyo Duran David, Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
16. Contador Alberto, Tinkoff-Saxo
17. Chaves Rubio Johan Esteban, Orica GreenEDGE @ 0:07
18. Pardilla Bellon Sergio, MTN – Qhubeka
19. Arredondo Moreno Julián David, Trek Factory Racing
20. Kennaugh Peter, Team Sky
21. Gilbert Philippe, BMC Racing Team

39. Valverde Alejandro, Movistar Team
85. Craven Dan, Team Europcar @ 1.29
99. Boonen Tom, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ 2.18
120. Yates Adam, Orica GreenEDGE @ 3.31
128. Cancellara Fabian, Trek Factory Racing @ 3.37
129. Sagan Peter, Cannondale
172. Millar David, Garmin Sharp @ 4.21
197. Rowe Luke, Team Sky @ 21.33

1. Matthews Michael, Orica GreenEDGE

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