Having broken through on stage one of Vuelta al País Vasco for his first win in Sunweb colours, Michael Matthews was aiming a second straight victory in Eltziego. The Australian though had to settle for fourth place as former Orica-Scott teammate Michael Albasini took the win.
Matthews, 26, also won the opening stage of the 2015 edition of the race and then finished second on stage 2. While his fourth place was down on that 2015 placing, Matthews explained that for now, he was happy to have kept the leader's yellow jersey.
"Today was a great day in the leaders jersey. The team did an amazing job all day and in the final I was in the perfect position," said Matthews. "In the finale I saw a sign that said to turn left, panicked and from then it was game over. It was a solid ride from everyone in the team today and I’m disappointed not to have been able to finish it off but look forward to another day in the leaders jersey tomorrow."
Team Sunweb coach Morten Bennekou further explained that the confusing finale worked against the team. However, he was pleased with Matthews' reaction and eventual fourth place finish.
"The team did a really good job again today controlling the whole stage. In the final kilometres they also managed to deliver Michael to the sprint but then with only 300m to go a lot of riders were confused by a sign which was to direct the team cars," said Bennekou. "Michael braked and in a split second the win was gone. It’s a disappointment for all of us but on the positive side he still finished 4th keeping the yellow jersey for another day."
With no time bonuses on offer in the Basque Country, Matthews lead remained unchanged despite being on the same time as 123 other riders. Due to his second place finish, Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors) moves into second on the GC.
Stage 3 of the race, finishing in Donostia, is again expected to suit the fast finishers with Matthews eyeing off the win while wearing the yellow jersey and continue his preparation for Amstel Gold Race next weekend.