World championships: Michael Matthews wins ahead of Degenkolb and Phinney/Boivin in under 23 road race
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Friday, October 1, 2010

World championships: Michael Matthews wins ahead of Degenkolb and Phinney/Boivin in under 23 road race

by Shane Stokes at 3:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
Superb sprint seals gold on home soil

Michael MatthewsAustralian talent Michael Matthews drove the home crowd crazy with delight when he scooped the under 23 world road race championship today, winning a big group sprint of 45 riders.

The 20 year old timed his push to the line perfectly, coming past race favourite John Degenkolb inside the final 100 metres and hitting the line with arms pumping. Matthews ended up a full four bike lengths clear of the German silver medallist, with Taylor Phinney (USA) tying with Guillame Boivin (Canada) to add bronze to the time trial gold he won earlier this week.

"I am speechless,” beamed Matthews at the post-race interview. “There was a lot of pressure today, but I got a lot of support from my team-mates. It started off really well and finished better. I don’t think this will ever sink in as it is a dream, and dreams usually don’t come true.”

He paid tribute to his team-mates, who he said made a huge difference. “Major respect…I couldn’t have done it without them. They were with me the whole time, on the front run for me, being around me the whole time, making sure I had drinks, water, food, always asking me how I was...

“There was a lot of pressure on me but it worked on my side…everyone felt like they had to beat me instead of me beat them.”

After an approximate 100 kilometre solo move by US champion Ben King plus a spate of subsequent breaks were hauled back, everything was together for the final lap. A courageous attack by Tony Gallopin saw the Frenchman go clear six kilometres from the line and open up a promising lead. However the long, straight roads ensured that those behind could see him, spurring them on, and with three kilometres to go the chase was fully organised and closing in.

Gallopin was caught two kilometres from the line by the depleted peloton, making a big sprint almost certain. And so it transpired, with Degenkolb striking out early but being comprehensively beaten by Matthews. A fast finishing Phinney almost overhauled the German, but was himself perfectly matched by Boivin. This led to a very rare tie, with both riders appearing together on the podium, holding bronze.

King trying a winning move once more:

The most audacious attack of the race came right after the drop of the flag, when King powered off the front and quickly opened a minute’s lead. Motivated by the success of his recent long-distance move in winning the US nationals, he pushed on ahead; the knowledge that this Under 23 race was shorter than usual at just 159 kilometres added to his determination.

With no race radios in the event, information was patchy for those behind. Further confusion was caused when his namesake Ben King (Australia) clipped away approximately 15 kilometres into the race, joining up with Jelle Wallays (Belgium) and Andi Bajc (Slovenia) in the chase. They were brought back, but King went clear again and, bizarrely, was himself chased by King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong).

At the end of the second lap the leading King was one minute 13 seconds ahead of King #2, while the third King was three minutes 47 back. The peloton was a further half-minute in arrears.

Soon afterwards Moreno Moser (Italy), nephew of Francesco Moser, clipped away on the climb in a bid to close the gap. He was joined by Maximilian May (Germany), Georg Preidler (Austria) and Rohann Dennis (Australia), but their chase was a short-lived one. The increase in pace did however spur the bunch on and gave Andrei Krasilnikau (Belarus) the platform to catch King Lok Cheung just before the end of lap three.

He kept going and mopped up the second King on the climb, with this trio being approximately three minutes behind the leader at the end of lap four. The peloton was over six minutes down.

The pace was gradually being increased behind and at the halfway distance, King was two minutes 50 seconds ahead of the chasers, and just under four minutes clear of the peloton. Approximately ten kilometres later Alex Dowsett (Great Britain) succeeded in jumping across to the trio and at the end of lap six, they were two minutes 27 seconds back. The peloton was just 30 seconds further behind, with Moser set to bridge the gap.

The next time up the climb, Moser and Dowsett led over the top and were a minute and eight seconds back. The peloton was a further 20 seconds behind and had caught the other chasers. Moser was riding very strongly and dropped Dowsett, then went on to catch and drop the race leader King before the end of lap seven.

He pushed onwards and held a good lead over the climb, where Dowsett was finally caught by the peloton. Moser’s lead at the summit was just over a minute ahead of the shrinking chase group, which was being led by Australians Malcom Rudolph and Rohan Dennis. That gap continued to fall and at the end of lap eight, he was just 24 seconds ahead of Nélson Oliveira (Portugal) and Stefano Agostini (Italy), who were a handful of seconds in front of the main bunch.

Under 23 cycling world championshipsMoser was finally reeled in soon afterwards, then Gallopin made his move and pulled clear on the climb. He was 12 seconds clear at the summit, and was soon being chased by Degenkolb, Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) and Enrico Battaglin (Italy). It was too soon, though, and things came back together.

Jelle Wallays (Belgium) was next to try in a short-lived move. Adrian Honkisz (Poland), George Bennett (New Zealand) and Yannick Eijssen (Belgium) then pushed clear, only to be caught before the first climb. An attack by Jean-Lou Paiani (France) was followed by an effort by Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spain), who forged ahead only to be caught on the descent.

Gallopin then made another move, clipping away at the top of the second climb and holding off those trying to bridge across. His effort lasted until two kilometres to go, when he was finally reeled in and the concluding sprint began to be played out.

Degenkolb has shown his power on many occasions this year, winning stages in the Tour de l’Avenir, Thüringen Rundfahrt, FBD Rás and other events, and hit the front as the line approached. However Matthews was quicker, coming on his right and blasting home to massive cheers from the Australian crowd. Two days before Cadel Evans attempts to defend his title in the Elite race, the home nation topped the standings for the first time at this worlds.

Degenkolb looked satisfied with silver, while Phinney and Boivin shared bronze. Having four riders on the podium was a highly unusual sight yet, for the first time, the photo finish was simply unable to split the two and history was made.


Under 23 world road race championships, Geelong, Australia:

1, Michael Matthews (Australia) 159 kilometres in 4 hours 1 min 23 secs
2, John Degenkolb (Germany)
3, Taylor Phinney (USA) and Guillaume Boivin (Canada)
5, Arnaud Demare (France)
6, Sonny Colbrelli (Italy)
7, Laurens De Vreese (Belgium)
8, Sebastian Lander (Denmark)
9, Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spain)
10, Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Russian Federation)
11, Luke Rowe (Great Britain)
12, Siarhei Papok (Belarus)
13, Blaz Jarc (Slovenia)
14, Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)
15, Stefano Agostini (Italy)
16, David Boily (Canada)
17, Sylwester Janiszewski (Poland)
18, Mikel Landa Meana (Spain)
19, Yonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)
20, Egidijus Juodvalkis (Lithuania) all same time
21, Arnaud Papillon (Canada)
22,Yannick Eijssen (Belgium)
23, Nelson Felipe Santos Oliveira (Portugal)
24, Georg Preidler (Austria)
25, Massimo Graziato (Italy)
26, Rafal Majka (Poland)
27, George Bennett (New Zealand)
28, Dimitry Ignatiev (Russia)
29,Sebasian Balck (Sweden)
30, Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway) all same time


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