Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rabobank rider Matthews wins as chaos continues to marr the Tour Down Under on day three

Finishing the 129.7km stage seemed a simple task for the seasoned professional riders, and for Michael Matthews who crossed the line in first place sealing a victory for Rabobank it was; but for others the job was not as simple as it should have been. Confusion and miss-communication added insult to riders' injuries from yesterdays crashes as police re opened roads just minutes after Matthews took the stage.

Riders, including Manxman and favourite to win Cavendish who was already bitter, bloodied and bruised from yesterdays tumble onto the tarmac, were forced to negotiate traffic as they fought for positions on the line.

Race Director Mike Turtur, who has already come under sharp criticism for gravel patches on Stage 2, promised to hold an emergancy meeting to establish how the faux par occurred.

"We've had a policy in place whereby the green light vehicle is the last vehicle on the road behind the last rider, for 13 years," he explained.
"For whatever reason, our understanding is that green light vehicle was called forward of the Cavendish group with about 10 km to go and we don't know the reason why.

"Until we know how and why, I can't make any further comment -- but it's not the policy we've had in place for 13 years, it's never happened before.

"It's not good, but sometimes these things happen,” he added. “We'll be meeting as soon as possible with police."

The events leave Cavendish in the rather embarrasing postion of Lantern Rouge as the race heads into its fourth stage. However it was not all doom and gloom for the HTC-Highroad team as rider Matt Goss reclaimed overall first position at the end of the stage. Their former team mate Andre Greipel, winner of the race in 2008 and 2010, finished second on the stage and now occupies the same position overall.

Stage winner Matthews, who won the under-23 road race at last autumn's UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, claimed victory with a perfectly timed run to the line.

"It's unbelievable," said Matthews, who has stepped up to the ProTeam ranks with Rabobank after riding last year's race with the the UniSA-Australia national team. "This is probably one of the most difficult stages I've ridden and one of the most difficult in this tour. It's really great to win this one and thanks to my team.

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