The fragility of a leadout was there for all to see on Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under with the best-laid plans of Rabobank unable to secure a hoped-for victory for an in-form Michael Matthews.
The team rode a tactically perfect race with at least one of their riders always patrolling the front on the run in to Victor Harbour. The shorter distance, cooler conditions, and easier parcours had made the stage purpose built for a sprint finish and after the peloton was left wanting yesterday the same was not going to occur today.
Michael Matthews was to be the team's sprinter, with Mark Renshaw having conceded the lead role in favour of the former under 23 world champion after his impressive showing at Stirling, which sprung him right up in the general classification.
"With so many points on offer here at a ProTour race, and Michael a great chance to finish high up on GC at Willunga we have to go for the bonuses with him," said Renshaw.
And so it was; Graeme Brown and Tom Leezer put Renshaw and Matthews in prime position as the peloton squirreled through the technical finish but with the victory beckoning, Matthews lost the revered lead-out man's wheel. This was unbeknown to Renshaw, however, who could hardly turn around while travelling at 70 km/h.
"If he had've been on my wheel he would've won by ten bike lengths, but that's bike racing," said Renshaw, who added that it was natural that things didn't go perfectly in their first combination together.
"We still have to sync a little bit – we're definitely not on the same level as myself and Cav but that comes with time."
For his part Matthews was devastated, he copped a lot from certain members of his team at the finish, but it was a sense of self-criticism that was most evident. To his credit, it was his first time following the experienced Renshaw in a bunch dash, a scary proposition for even the best of riders.
"Mark did an awesome lead-out but I just wasn't there to finish it. It's just experience; it's my first time trying to follow him…
"It was our race to win... I'm really disappointed."
Renshaw meanwhile was far from critical of his younger teammate once tempers had flared.
"He's young, he's a really talented rider. He might need to get a bit of confidence in me. But I know we'll get it together."
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.