Australian sprinter Michael Matthews has moved into the race lead at Paris-Nice today after powering to third place and accumulating valuable bonus seconds throughout the stage.
Like yesterday’s opening stage, the 30-year-old Team BikeExchange rider fought hard to take an additional five bonus seconds during the two intermediate sprints of the day, after the early breakaway was reeled back in.
With the help of his teammates, Matthews positioned himself in fifth wheel coming out of the final corner and bided his time before launching his sprint for third place, successfully claiming four more crucial seconds. This proved to be enough for the Australian rider to leapfrog Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Sam Bennet (Deceuninck-Quickstep) to move into the overall race lead.
“I came here to try everything I could. With the breakaways not really going, it gave us opportunities to go for the intermediate sprints, take seconds back and take the jersey.
“I knew I wasn’t the fastest guy here so I tried to position well and sprint as best I could and, in the end, today I was third. There was time bonuses for the third place and so I got it and will get to wear it tomorrow in the time trial.
“It is nice that the hard work from the last two days pays off and I can pull on the yellow jersey for the team. The team were positioning me all day to make sure I could get up for all the intermediate sprint and also for the final sprint, so it is a really good day for us.
“To be wearing the jersey at least for one-day, I am really looking forward to that. It is amazing, everybody is fully committed to the plan and I am just trying to execute it as best I can and I will try my best with every opportunity, I get to pay them back.
“I haven’t done a time trial yet (this season), everything has been going well with my time trial training so hopefully I do a good TT tomorrow and continue with the jersey.”
2021 Paris-Nice Results – Stage 2:
1. Cees Bol (DSM) 4:27:59
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) ST
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)
General Classification after stage 2:
1. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 8:19:23
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) +0:04
3. Sam Bennet (Deceuninck-Quickstep) +0:04
Photo courtesy of A.S.O./Fabien Boukla