Grand Tour debutant Michael Matthews sprinted to win stage five of this year’s Vuelta in Lago de Sanabria this afternoon as he cleverly took advantage of Argos-Shimano’s lead-out.
Matthews – who won the Under-23 World Road Race Championships in 2010 – had indicated good form when he finished third behind Daniel Moreno and Fabian Cancellara on Tuesday’s tricky finish into Fisterra.
Today, the Orica-GreenEdge infiltrated Argos’ train designed for
sprinter Niklas Arndt, and comfortably managed to outsprint his rivals
to take the win at the end of a frantic closing hour of racing.
The day’s five-man breakaway – Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jurgen Van De Walle (Lotto Belisol), Arnaud Corteille (FDJ) and Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) – broke clear after eight kilometres, and still held a lead of 4-22 with 35 kilometres remaining.
However, the peloton halved their advantage as they came to within 20 kilometres of Lago de Sanabria, and caught the last of the escapees Corteille and Van De Walle with 3.5 kilometres to go.
Tour of Britain stage winner Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) tried in vain to counter the catch and solo to the finish, but was quickly caught.
World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) came to the front of the peloton under the flamme rouge, but his attempted attack looked more like he was trying to help the Argos lead-out, particularly given his all-white kit.
Gilbert faded coming onto the finishing straight, but Argos hadn’t and Arndt looked well-placed to sprint to the victory. He didn’t, however, count on Matthews’ impressive kick.
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely within the bunch to retain the red jersey, three seconds ahead of previous leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).
Vuelta a Espana 2013, stage five: Sober to Lago de Sanabria
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 174.3km in 4-28-22
2. Maximilliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Niklas Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
5. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
7. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr
8. Greg Henderson (Nzl) Lotto-Belisol
9. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
10. Grega Bole (Svk) Vacansoleil-DCM
Overall classification after stage five
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
2. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard at 3 secs
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 8 secs
4. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Leopard at 16 secs
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 21 secs
6. Robert Kiserlovski (Crc) RadioShack-Leopard at 26 secs
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) sky at 28 secs
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 31 secs
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 42 secs
10. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp-Endura at 45 secs
Michael Matthews takes the bunch sprint
Vincenzo Nibali maintains the race lead
Vuelta a Espana 2013: Related links
Vuelta 2013 coverage index
Vuelta a Espana 2013: Stage reports
Stage four: Moreno wins tough stage
Stage three: Horner takes charge with stage win and overall lead
Stage two: Nicolas Roche attacks to win
Stage one: Astana takes opening team time trial