The wheel of fortune in the sport of pro cycling can be as cruel as it can be triumphant. After losing the Tour of Alberta team time trial by a crushingly close margin of 0.74 of a second to Trek Factory Racing on stage 1, Orica-GreenEdge turned their luck around when Michael Matthews won stage 2 into Grande Prairie, and moved into the lead of both the overall classification and the sprinter's competition.
"With the team that we brought here we expected to really dominate the team time trial yesterday but it didn't quite go as we had planned," Matthews said. "You have your good days and your bad days. We tried today to redeem ourselves from yesterday and the boys did better than I had expected them to ride in the final five kilometres. They really nailed it."
Matthews relied on his lead-out train to take him through the final five kilometres, and with the likes of team time trial specialists Svein Tuft, Luke Durbridge, Jens Mouris, Michael Hepburn and Sam Bewley escorting him to the finish line, taking the win was almost undeniable.
"We just tried to use all our horsepower for the lead-out," Matthews said. "I was so happy to be able to pull off the win after such a great lead-out that the boys did for me. They risked a lot out there because it was a dangerous final with the weather and a lot of other teams trying to take the final of the race, so they risked a lot and it was nice to take the victory for them."
Matthews will wear the leader's jersey into the third stage but he is not expecting to hang onto it because it is the first of two summit finishes held in the Canadian Rockies during the Tour of Alberta.
The 181km race will start in Grande Cache and finish on the climb through Jasper National Park to Miette Hot Springs. The following day's stage 4 will again take the riders through Jasper National Park and finish on a 12km ascent to the Marmot Basin Ski Area.
"I don't know anything about the two climbing stages but I have heard that they are quite hard, so we brought our little whippersnappers for those stages."
The little whippersnappers that Matthews was referring to are Adam Yates, recent winner of the Clasica San Sebastian, and his support rider for the climbs Christian Meier.
Meier is currently sitting in in third overall after stage 2 and is the top placed Canadian rider. "We brought Adam Yates to give it a crack over the next couple of days and I'll support him as best I can right until the end of each stage," he said.
"There are lot of people excited to finally get into some climbs because Alberta, over the last few years, has been more of a sprinters' race. I think people are excited to have a race with some harder stages and they are excited to actually get into one of our great National Parks.
"I think it is going to be beautiful and something that a lot of the Europeans don't know what to expect, they'll have never seen anything like it because it's different than anything they would be used to. I think they will be awestruck over the next couple of days."
Kirsten Frattini has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level all the way to the World Cup. She is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. Kirsten has worked in both print and digital publishing. She started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006, and was responsible for reporting from the US and Canadian racing scene. Now as a Production Editor, she produces international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits global news and writes features.
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