Stirling normally throws up some classic finishes during the Tour Down Under and today was no exception. While it was one world champion, Cadel Evans, who showed his mettle in the Adelaide Hills town last year it was another, Michael Matthews, who demonstrated how an U23 world champ can serve it to the big boys.
The 20-year-old Rabobank neo-pro comfortably out-kicked André Greipel and fellow Australian Matthew Goss in the tough uphill finish and he was understandably ecstatic at taking a win in his first outing at a World Tour event - and on home soil, too.
"It's one of the most difficult races in this tour so it's really great to win this one and thanks to my team," said Matthews after the finish.
"With about a kilometre to go I felt pretty good and I had a look around and there was only a couple of sprinters there. I was a bit worried about Gossy because he's really fast and he's won a stage already but I just had the legs in the end I guess."
While Graeme Brown is Rabobank's captain for the event, the Dutch squad had to change tack given that the elder Australian was caught up behind a crash again today and it may have hurt his chances of being up there for the sprint.
"In the last three kilometres Tom [Leezer] was leading me all the way to the front. I was like 50th wheel with four kilometres to go and then he put me in perfect position for the sprint," said Matthews.
"Tom basically got me from about halfway down the bunch up the front and all the other boys were just behind me yelling at me making sure I had food and water. I couldn't have done it without them.
"With about a lap to go I wasn't feeling that good but my team came back and geed me up and they were just amazing the whole race, getting me motivated for the sprint and saying, 'You can do it' so I pulled it off for them at the end."
Time to lick the wounds
After the drama of yesterday's crashes there were two non-starters this morning in the suburb of Unley: owing to injuries sustained during stage two, Chris Sutton (Team Sky) and Bernard Sulzberger (UNiSA-Australia) were forced to withdraw from this year's race.
And for the same reason - yesterday's carnage - the peloton wasn't too keen to offer much resistance early. Just four kilometres after the 10km neutral section, Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) successfully attacked and soon had three other riders for company, the quartet quickly establishing a lead nudging three minutes.
The break's advantage would reach the five-minute mark as Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha), Luis Pasamontes (Movistar), Luke Durbridge (UniSA) and De Gendt contested the intermediate sprints at McLaren FLat and Echunga. Kuschynski prevailed in both but Durbridge took maximum points in the KOM on Germantown Hill after 80 clicks, netting the most aggressive rider prize in the process.
"I had a go. It was a solid day and you never know if it's going to come back or not," said Durbridge after the finish. "We had a good try and saw how we could go but unfortunately we got caught.
"It was good we kept the KOM in the team and the most aggressive is just a good jersey to wear for tomorrow as a reward for being in the breakaway today."
After catching the break with 20km remaining in the stage it was time for the likes of Saxo Bank's Richie Porte and RadioShack's Ben Hermans to have a dig on the finishing circuits around Stirling late in the stage but to no avail; with the sprinters' teams controlling the day they weren't going to let any plucky moves succeed and eventually it was a plucky young neo-pro, Matthews, who prevailed.
"It's parallel with the world championships because the guys you are racing against are the best in the world so under 23 is under 23's but this is the elite level and it's basically the world championships again," explained Matthews.
"Coming into one of the biggest pro teams in the world puts a bit of pressure on you to get some results but I was just here to work and help the team so it's good to get the result in the end.
"I kept an eye out for them [Goss and McEwen] because they're all brilliant riders they all could have won today so I kept an eye out for them just to see how they were. We had the DS on the radio and everything so we knew where they were all the time. I just had the legs in the end to get it."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team||3:11:47|
|2||André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Luke Roberts (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Allan Davis (Aus) Astana||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha Team||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard Trek||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Radio Shack||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radio Shack||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||David Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:07|
|26||Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Mathieu Perget (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Mitchell Docker (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Hayden Roulston (NZl) HTC-Highroad||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek||Row 46 - Cell 2|
|48||Jack Bobridge (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||0:00:13|
|49||Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Juan Horrach (Spa) Katusha Team||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:25|
|61||Manuel Cardoso (Por) Team Radio Shack||0:00:31|
|62||Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||0:00:32|
|63||Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:46|
|64||Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|65||Jos van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|66||William Clarke (Aus) Leopard Trek||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard||0:00:50|
|69||Miguel Minguez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:00:54|
|70||Simon Clarke (Aus) Astana||0:00:57|
|71||Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 70 - Cell 2|
|72||Travis Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||0:00:59|
|73||Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:01:06|
|74||David Tanner (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard||0:01:10|
|75||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 74 - Cell 2|
|76||Adam Hansen (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto||0:01:19|
|77||Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar Team||0:01:20|
|78||Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||0:01:48|
|79||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 78 - Cell 2|
|80||Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 79 - Cell 2|
|81||Bruno Pires (Por) Leopard Trek||0:02:41|
|82||Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Lampre - ISD||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|83||Robbie Hunter (RSA) Team Radio Shack||0:03:11|
|84||Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radio Shack||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|85||Timothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing Team||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|86||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|87||Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|88||Michael Hepburn (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|89||Vicente Reynes (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|90||Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|91||Stefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard Trek||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|92||Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (Kaz) Astana||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|93||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|94||Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|95||Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|96||Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|97||Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha Team||0:04:19|
|98||Luke Durbridge (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|99||Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Astana||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|100||Alfredo Balloni (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|101||Martin Pedersen (Den) Leopard Trek||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|102||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD||0:05:15|
|103||Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step Cycling Team||0:05:28|
|104||Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:06:07|
|105||Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Cervelo||0:06:14|
|106||Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team||0:06:36|
|107||Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 106 - Cell 2|
|108||Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||0:06:39|
|109||Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 108 - Cell 2|
|110||Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana||Row 109 - Cell 2|
|111||Brian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 110 - Cell 2|
|112||Marco Bandiera (Ita) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 111 - Cell 2|
|113||Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team||Row 112 - Cell 2|
|114||Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 113 - Cell 2|
|115||Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad||0:07:20|
|116||Danny Pate (USA) HTC-Highroad|