Baden Cooke, former winner of the Tour de France green jersey, delivered Matthews to the last 200 metres with only the fast-finishing Sagan able to get in front of the Australian and by only half a wheel.
"It was a bit chaotic with about 5km to go, but my team was amazing today," Matthews said after the Saxo-Tinkoff squad had emerged en masse at the front of the race. "I wouldn't have been in the top three without the perfect leadout from my whole team. I think everyone did their part today, and I think we got the result we deserved. Sagan was just a little too fast in the finish."
Orica GreenEdge is two men down having lost both Michael Hepburn and Fumiyuki Beppu following the first stage where the pair finished outside the time cut. That and the sapping heat experienced on Stage 2 certainly putting the team on the back foot having arrived just two days before the race however it's been a determined showing from the Australian team so far with Cameron Meyer 10th in Palm Springs yesterday.
"Yesterday was a long day, I think it was 45 degrees, and everyone was struggling," Matthews confirmed. "We had to drink water all day and we got through it, just. I think we're dealing with it alright."
His second place behind Sagan was the second time that the 22-year-old has earned a podium in California, having finished third – again behind Sagan – on the stage to Clovis last year when he rode for Rabobank. Still chasing his first victory since moving to Orica GreenEdge this season, Matthews was optimistic for what lay ahead.
"We'll keep trying for the win," he said. "I haven't really looked at the stages for the next few days but we're going to keep trying for a result."