Bling Matthews sprints to Clasica de Almeria victory
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bling Matthews sprints to Clasica de Almeria victory

by Ben Atkins at 1:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Young Australian fast man takes Rabobank’s long-awaited first win of 2012

michael matthewsMichael “Bling” Matthews (Rabobank) won the Clasica de Almeria at the head of a bunch sprint, to take his - and his team’s - first victory of the season. The 21-year-old Australian was delivered to the line by his teammates to finish clear of Slovenian sprinter Borut Bozic (Astana), with German track specialist Roger Kluge (Project 1t4i) taking third.

“It is fantastic to give the team to its first win of the season for the second consecutive year,” Matthews enthused after the race [the previous year’s was the third stage of the Santos Tour Down Under - ed]. “I felt strong and the team did a great job; it was close perfection. Luis León [Sánchez] gave us a really good start and Graeme [Brown] started from 400 metres. When you get get delivered like that it makes things a lot easier for a sprinter, although of course you still have to win; but we did.

“This victory is good for morale,” he added. “Not just the fact that I won, but also the way I won.”

Despite being a race that suited a bunch sprint, the race featured a number of climbs; the last of which reduced the peloton to just 55 riders as approached the finish.

"That climb was really tough,” Matthews explained. “That was the hardest part of the race, but even there it was perfect. We were in the right place, we started well ahead of that climb. I just felt really good today and was happy to be rewarded with a nice victory.”

"The team really needed this win, but we have also worked hard. It ran today as it was suppose to; we had everything under control, and finally got the victory!”

The pace was high as soon as the 185.6km race began, with the peloton strung out into one long line as soon as the flag was dropped. After multiple attacks, Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Barracuda), Yannick Talabardon (Saur Sojasun), Jurgen Van de Walle (Lotto) and Jose Vicente Toribio (Andalucía) got away and the pace in the bunch settled down.

The breakaway group was allowed to build a lead of almost five minutes, until the Astana team began to pull them back. They were finally caught as they hit the base of the 2nd category Lucainena de las Torres, and the pace set up the climb saw the peloton split into several pieces.

Astana and Rabobank continued to set a fierce pace on the 3rd category climb to La Serrata, which reduced the peloton to just fifty. The Dutch team lined up its Australian sprinter for the finish and he duly won the stage.

Result Clasica de Almeria
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank
2. Borut Bozic (Slo) Team Astana
3. Roger Kluge (Ger) Project 1t4i
4. Stéphane Poulhiés (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
5. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team
6. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
8. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Barracuda
9. Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp
10. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Caja Rural

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