After the Tour de France stage to Mûr-de-Bretagne on Sunday, Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) appeared deeply disappointed just past the finish line of stage 2, his shoulders hung low over the handlebars as he contemplated a day that went wrong.
The Australian had entered the 183.5km run in to the short, steep climb wearing the green jersey and confident the parcours would suit him more than Saturday's Grand Depart where he pipped Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in an impressive sprint for second behind Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
However, Matthews couldn't keep with the pace that shattered the peloton and allowed for the title contenders to come to the fore on the punishing finishing circuit. He came in 2:40 behind stage winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), with yellow jersey favourites Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) and Roglič rounding out the podium.
"I guess after my performance yesterday I expected quite a bit out of myself. Maybe yesterday took more out of me than I thought it did. In one word, yeah, disappointed," Matthews quietly said post-race.
The 30-year-old, who has made a seamless transition back to BikeExchange this season, after a four year absence, couldn't pinpoint what went wrong.
"Not really sure. We positioned really well coming into the circuit and the first time up the climb, my legs just totally exploded. It was like I was a different bike rider to yesterday, unfortunately. Yesterday I could do what I wanted and today unfortunately I couldn't," he said.
"I just tried to survive over the first time Mûr de Bretagne and then we had the climb straight after, which was also very difficult. And then coming into the bottom, the last time on the Mûr de Bretagne, I went to get out of the seat and was going backwards faster than I was going forwards."
Matthews said the aftermath of two large crashes that punctuated stage 1 didn't affect the mood in the peloton or the way he or it raced.
"I think it was the same. I was thinking maybe people would calm down a little bit but nah. It's the Tour de France and it's the first week and there are jerseys up for grabs at least for a day so everyone is going to try and take it."
The 2017 green jersey winner, who was consoled by a teammate at the finish, potentially has another chance at victory on stage 3 but wasn't immediately contemplating it on Sunday.
"We'll have a look from now on to see what we do. I guess [we will] try and get over today first and then see what we do tomorrow," he said.
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