Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was left disappointed after finishing fifth in the sprint finish at the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing. BMC's Thor Hushovd prevailed in the sprint finale after finding a late gap.
Orica-GreenEdge had led the peloton into the final couple of kilometres, with Matthews tucked safely behind the train. The 23-year-old Australian hit the front with 200 metres to go, but lost out on the line in a close finish.
"The team did a perfect job for me but, in the end, I think I went a little early in the sprint," he said after the stage. "Usually from 200 to go I'm pretty good, but today there was a bit of a headwind so it was pretty easy to stay on someone's wheel while they were sprinting. If I was to do it again I would delay the sprint until a little bit later."
Matthews, who favours the tougher sprint finishes, didn't go into the stage with high ambitions. "We have another sprinter Leigh Howard, but he got ill leading into this race so I have to take over these sprints too," he explained.
"It's not the perfect sprint for me, but you've always got to try in these sorts of races and maybe you can pull it off or maybe you can't. It's always practice in the end."
This season Matthews has carved a place himself as one of the lead sprinters for his Orica-GreenEdge team, with four victories to his name. His enjoyed his biggest moment this season when he claimed two victories at the Vuelta a España, including the final stage into Madrid.
He's hoping to add to that tally in the coming stages in China, which feature several small climbs. "I think there are another couple of chances to come. Hopefully I can get a win for the boys, because they've been doing an awesome job for me."
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