Matthews wins stage 4 of Tour of Utah
Michael Matthews won a fiercely fought uphill battle to the line in Salt Lake City to take out stage four of the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The young Australian finished off the work of his teammates who had fully committed to delivering Matthews to the top step of the podium.
The victory marks Matthews second win and third podium this week and the second victory of his career in Utah’s capital city. It is the 100th victory for the GreenEDGE family since the team’s inception with 62 wins from ORICA-GreenEDGE and 38 wins from ORICA-AIS.
“The boys did exactly what we said we wanted to do,” said Matthews. “They did a perfect job tonight. We couldn’t have asked for much more out of this race. We’ve got two stage wins and three top threes. We’re all pretty happy with the way things have gone.”
Having lost two riders over Mt. Nebo yesterday, the team was at a distinct disadvantage at the start of the five lap circuit race around Salt Lake City. Sport Director Matt Wilson suspected most of the peloton would expect Team GreenEdge to control the stage.
“With only five guys in the race, it was very hard to organise a lead-out,” Wilson said. “We had to commit three guys to controlling the breakaway, which basically left only Cookie [Baden Cooke] to help Matthews in the sprint. They did an amazing job today. For four guys to do what they did is incredible.”
Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) spearheaded the formation of a five rider escape group. The popular German was joined up the road by Marsh Cooper (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy/Kenda), Chris Baldwin (Bissell) and Craig Lewis (Champion System).
“We had to commit from the start because no one wanted to do any work except for Garmin-Sharp, who obviously wanted to keep the race together for Lachlan [Morton],” explained Matthews. “They helped us out during the first three laps, but we were on our own during the last two.”
Damien Howson, Sam Bewley and Wesley Sulzberger assumed control ahead of the bunch, setting a tempo that slowly but steadily reeled in the breakaway. Lewis was the last man standing, managing to hold off the field until the final kilometre.
“The team put me in the best position at the bottom of the climb,” said Matthews. “They delivered me to Greg’s wheel, which was exactly what we had discussed in the team meeting. This wasn’t a typical sprint. I had to play my cards right, following Greg in the sprint and seeing what legs I had in the finish.”
“Baden went from 1km to go until about 500 metres,” added Wilson. “As he started to fade, Van Avermaet jumped and made a big effort until 200 to go. From what I understand, he turned around and saw Matthews glued to his wheel and just balked. Matthews came off Van Avermaet’s wheel at that point and put clear distance between himself and the others at the finish.”
Matthews had two big lengths on Van Avermaet as he powered across the uphill finish line. Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager) rounded out the podium. Morton finished safely in the bunch to retain his race lead.