Team plan plays out to perfection at Almeria
Michael Matthews claimed Rabobank's much-craved first win of the season, sprinting to victory at Clasica de Almeria in Spain. It's the second consecutive year that Matthews, former under 23 world champion, has got the first runs on the board for the Dutch team having claimed Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under in 2011.
Matthews prevailed in the 10-man sprint to the line, ahead of Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team) and Roger Kluge (Project 1T4i).
After his season-opener, the Tour Down Under, Matthews raced at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol where he posted three top-10 results and appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Sunday's win was it.
"It is fantastic for the second consecutive year to help the team to its first win of the season," Michael Matthews told Rabosport.nl. "I felt strong and the team did a great job. The lead out was close to perfect. Luis Leon [Sanchez] gave us very good start and Graeme went from 400 meters.
"When you get delivered like that it makes it a lot easier, of course, you still have to try and win. But we did," he continued.
"This is a big boost for morale. Not only the fact that we won; but the way did it."
The day's break consisting of Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Barracuda), Yannick Talabardon (Saur Sojasun), Jurgen Van de Walle (Lotto) and Jose Vicente Toribio (Andalucía) had been allowed a gap of up to five minutes before eventually being reeled in after 159 kilometres of racing.
The Almeria parcours was perfectly suited to the Australian, with three climbs en-route to a slight uphill finishing straight. A selection of 55 riders made it over the final climb of the day, at around 60 kilometres left to race.
Rabobank director sportif Jan Boven was impressed with his team's effort, saying that the race had gone "exactly as planned" with Matthews one of two cards the team could play, the other being 2010 winner Theo Bos.
Robert Gesink had waited for Bos, but the former winner had not made the front group and so Rabobank was left with five riders to guide Matthews to victory.
"The team really needed this win, but we have also worked hard," Matthews again praised the work of his teammates. "Everything went to plan today as it was supposed to; we had everything under control, and finally got the victory!"
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