Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) upset the field at the 2016 GP Ouest France - Plouay, leaving the sprinters to battle for the final podium position. As Naesen was celebrating the biggest win of his career, Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) charged up the right-hand side of the road in the finale but it was Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), the 2015 champion, who pipped the Australian at the post for third.
Matthews, 26, was making his first return to racing since third at the RideLondon Classic and had been positioned by his teammates to battle for the victory. Sports director Matt White explained that the change in the course contributed to the upset victory for Naesen but was nevertheless pleased with the result from Matthews.
"Michael rode well today, it is his first race in a month since the Prudential RideLondon and if it all goes well I think it will be a really good finish to the season for him," said White.
White added that the race had played out in an unexpected manner and at one point even expected the two-breakaway riders to be reeled in, only for them to beat the pack by a handful of seconds.
"It was a totally different parcours today except for the final lap. It was pretty average weather and the bunch really disintegrated in the final, usually a lot more guys get to the line and can help with the chasing," said White. "I thought with five kilometres to go when the gap was down to 25seconds that we would have a chance to catch the two riders once we got onto the last climb.
"So chapeau to those two guys who held off the bunch, that was a super ride to hang on for the win and a little bit more unpredictable this year."
Matthews will next be in action with Orica-BikeExchange, before moving across to the Giant-Sunweb squad from 2017, in Canada for the Quebec and Montreal WorldTour one-day races before shifting focus to the Doha World Championships in October.
"He should be very competitive in Canada and I know he is very motivated for the World Championships. Overall it was a good race from all the boys here today," added White.