Vuelta a Espana: Michael Matthews takes overall race lead after winning stage three
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 26/08/14 11:28am
Australia's Michael Matthews claimed the overall lead of the Vuelta a Espana by narrowly beating Dan Martin to victory on stage three.
Matthews lived up his billing as one of the pre-stage favourites with a perfectly timed burst on the small rise to the finish line in Arcos de la Frontera, edging out his Irish rival by the length of a wheel.
The ten bonus seconds he collected for the win see him move to the top of the general classification, four seconds ahead of second-placed Nairo Quintana and 11 seconds ahead of third-placed Alejandro Valverde, who had been the previous leader but lost seven seconds on the day.
It was the third Vuelta stage win of Matthews’s career and he has now led two Grand Tours this season, having worn the pink jersey for six days at May's Giro d’Italia.
Froome shows form
Chris Froome gave a glimpse of good form by finishing tenth on the stage, which leaves him 17th overall, 31 seconds down on Matthews.
"It makes the win so much sweeter to be able to win when your whole team has absolutely smashed themselves for you," Matthews said.
“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."
The stage started in unique circumstances, with the roll-out beginning in the bowels of an aircraft carrier moored in Cadiz's harbour after the riders had earlier posed for pictures in and beside fighter jets up on deck.
Five riders defied sweltering heat to form a breakaway early in the stage, and although Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) later moved into a solo lead, Matthews’s Orica-GreenEdge team were vigilant with the chase and caught the Spaniard 25km from the finish.
A brief hiatus in the peloton followed as teams showed reluctance to set the pace and expend energy, but the fight for prime position ahead of the 1.5km climb to finish soon began, with Giant-Shimano and Katusha showing the greatest intent.
Two Katusha riders duly attacked on the climb, 1.1km out, with Giampaolo Caruso subsequently surging into a lone lead, but then Martin (Garmin-Sharp) launched a ferocious counter-attack with around 500m remaining.
Matthews followed in his slipstream and after the pair had flown past Caruso 150m out, the 23-year-old kicked again to secure his fifth win of the season.
Stage three result
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 5:12:14
2 Dan Martin (Ire) Garmin-Sharp, same time
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, st
5 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin, st
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing, st
7 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr, st
9 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, st
10 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
13 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
16 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 9:27:53
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +4sec
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +11
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +15
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale, +17
6 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, same time
7 George Bennett (NZ) Cannondale, +20
8 Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, st
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +22
12 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +23
17 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +31