Tour de Suisse: Matthews takes confidence from second place in Gstaad

Christopher Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) managed to shake off his breakaway companions in the closing kilometres to win stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse by a margin of just eight seconds.

Team Sunweb's versatile sprinter Michael Matthews took the remaining honours, beating Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the bunch sprint to the line, finishing in second place.

Despite Team Sunweb's second place on the opening stage team time trial and Matthews managing a subsequent fourth and sixth place finish on stage 2 and 3, respectively, the Australian had not been satisfied with his sprinting form but took confidence from stage 4's result.

"After the last two stages, I wasn't too happy with my sprints after an altitude camp," Matthews said. "We took a bit of a gamble today in not riding because we haven't done so well in the last two sprints.

"The climb wasn't as hard as we expected. We were going 30kph the whole way up, so it wasn't quite steep enough to make the difference. It took the edge off the sprinters, though, which gave me a chance to do a proper sprint - unfortunately it was for second but it's good for the confidence."

The 7km Saanenmöser climb outside of Gstaad was listed as a second category ascent in the road book, and it was this perhaps overstated category rating that saw the peloton misjudge the chase on the breakaway.

Bora-Hansgrohe, Quick-Step Floors and BMC Racing led the chase up much of the climb, with Matthews admitting that Sunweb banked on the aforementioned teams closing the gap to Juul-Jensen's group, a plan that was ultimately unsuccessful.

"The climb was nothing serious," Matthews said. "We saw the gradient in the book and it was all about five or six per cent. I think with the flat part in the middle it made the average maybe four per cent.

"It seemed that Quick-Step, Bora and BMC had it under control, so we didn't really feel like we needed to contribute. There's only so much three teams can do compared to four teams so it's a bit unfortunate we didn't catch him, but that's racing at the end of the day.

"I think everyone gambled a little bit thinking someone else was going to do it, and then it was just a little bit too late. Juul-Jensen's a really strong guy and I think if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile. I'm happy for him."

After the opening stages of the Tour de Suisse offered the sprinters their opportunities, the race now moves into the mountains with three categorised climbs on stage 5, followed by two more tough days with plenty of climbing for the GC contenders.

Matthews' focus will now turn towards domestique duties and support of Sunweb team leader Wilco Kelderman as the Dutchman sets his sights on the overall race title.

"Wilco and I have been on a training camp in Livigno together these past three weeks, so I know how his climbing is going," Matthews said. "He's in really good shape so hopefully, we can do our best for him.

"We have another good climber in Sam Oomen to support him a little bit better than I can, but I'll do my best and see if I can help him out in any way. It'll probably be just getting as far as I can, making sure he has everything he needs and setting him on his way."

Cyclingnews Films' second production CRESCENDO is available to buy or rent on Vimeo.

CRESCENDO from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo.

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