Tour of Utah: Matthews caught out of the break, then wins the bunch sprint
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tour of Utah: Matthews caught out of the break, then wins the bunch sprint

by Kyle Moore at 6:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Breakaway riders ‘Bling,’ Johann Tschopp, Tim Duggan put on a show

Michael MatthewsMichael Matthews (Rabobank) snuck out the sprint victory in stage three of the Tour of Utah on Thursday. Matthews survived the hilly 137-kilometre stage into Salt Lake City primarily because he was one of the five men in the day’s primary breakaway. The Aussie nicknamed ‘Bling’ was dropped out of the escape on the final climb of the day, but stuck in the reduced peloton on the 20km descent into the city.

BMC Racing had control of the peloton along with Liquigas-Cannondale into the final ten kilometres. The American squad did everything right heading into the finale, but in the end were setting up for the sprint with riders not known as true fast men. Though he had expended energy in the escape all day, Matthews still had the quickest legs of the survivors in the peloton.

Matthews’ impressive win topped off admirable performances by other riders from the break. Johann Tschopp (BMC Racing) was the last survivor, putting in a difficult solo performance up Big Mountain, the final climb of the day. The Swiss rider made half the descent toward the finish before being hauled in with 10km to race.

American road race champion Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was the last man dropped by Tschopp on the Big Mountain climb and was eventually pulled back by the peloton. Upon his return, Liquigas-Cannondale decided to take control from Garmin-Sharp, and it was Duggan who promptly took to the front to pull the peloton to the finish and to pull Tschopp back.

With the Swiss rider reeled in, BMC used seven men to keep speeds high for the finish, setting up both Brent Bookwalter and Michael Schär. But neither could match Matthews, who pipped the BMC duo on the line. Schär was second, and Bookwalter threw his bike for third.

Christian Vande Velde safely maintained his overall lead.

"It was fortunate that there was a long descent [into the finish], so I could recover fairly well," Matthews said.

"We intended for Wilco Kelderman or Marc Goos to have a go, but Michael rode well on the first climb and was fine with it," Rabobank director Frans Maassen added. "He survived the last climb well and was in a group where only climbers were left. You've got to give him credit. It's really clever what he did today. He has trained hard for this stage race and is in good shape."

On the short stage of 137 kilometres, the climbing began almost straight away.

At the drop of the flag, a number of early attacks were quickly nullified, as many riders sensed a possible stage win out of the break. Javier Gomez Pineda (EPM-UNE) was the first man to get away, but the Colombian was only up the road briefly, as the climb of North Ogden Pass kicked up. Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) hit the front of the main bunch in support of Vande Velde, and Stetina’s searing pace put many in trouble and wrote the end of Pineda’s break.

With riders falling off the back regularly, Lucas Euser (Spidertech-C10) outsprinted Ian Boswell (Bontrager-Livestrong) for maximum points over North Ogden Pass. Off the descent, five men formed the primary escape. Tschopp, Matthews, Duggan, Thomas Rohregger (Radioshack-Nissan), and Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) had 2’50” into the base of the Trapper’s Loop climb, the second of three on the day. Duggan led over the top, as the quintet had increased its lead to 3’45”.

The bunch maintained status quo for a 50km stretch of flats before Big Mountain kicked up just beyond the 100km mark. Garmin-Sharp kept things under control for Vande Velde, and then sent the gap tumbling as the climb approached. With 44km to go, it was down to two minutes. Ten kilometres later, it was just 1’15” until Tschopp and Duggan increased the pace on the climb.

Matthews and Deignan were the first to get dropped, and then Rohregger went next. Tschopp took the virtual lead on the road away from Deignan, as Brian Vandborg (Spidertech-C10) made a brief acceleration from the peloton. Duggan began flagging before Tschopp dropped him for good, just as Rafael Infantino (EPM-UNE) made his bid from the main group.

The Colombian’s attempt got off to a promising start. He caught and passed Matthews, who had briefly held on. He overtook Rohregger and eventually caught Duggan. But with the summit of Big Mountain 20km from the finish, and with too many fast men still left and hoping for a chance, no rider was able to solo in.

Infantino was reeled in and Tschopp followed soon after as BMC came to the fore. But Matthews had somehow managed to save just enough. He used a bit of space on the right side of the road inside the final 50 meters to accelerate around the duo of Schär and Bookwalter.

2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage Three Brief Results:

1, Michael Matthews (Rabobank)
2, Michael Schär (BMC Racing)
3, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing)
4, Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare)
5, Caleb Fairly (Spidertech-C10)
6, Gavin Mannion (Bontrager Livestrong)
7, Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
8, Fred Rodriguez (Team Exergy)
9, Joshua Atkins (Bontrager Livestrong)
10, Francisco Mancebo Perez (Competitive Cyclist)


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