Michael Matthews wins Alberta stage 2, takes lead

Matthews prevails on a cold and wet day in Alberta, seizing the overall lead with a sprint victory.

At the end of a cold, wet day of racing in Grande Prairie County, Alberta, Michael Matthews emerged from the peloton to win by a tire ahead of Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) on Thursday.

“From about five kilometers to go we took control of the bunch, said Mathews. “From then on it was just perfection really, the guys totally nailed it. We had a plan and they really executed it, even with the twisty roads and a lot of rain.

“I wouldn’t say I was flying but it was my first opportunity to open up in a sprint like that in a while. It was little bit foreign but I just had to take the confidence in my form at the moment.”

Stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta was animated by a break of four riders: Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18), Phil O’Donnell (Axeon), Ben Perry (Silber), and Thomas Vaubourzeix (Lupus). They pushed their advantage north of three minutes at one point, but the sprinters’ teams brought it all back together inside of 30 kilometers to go in the 171.6km day.

But it wasn’t so simple. After a few solo attacks, a group of four got a gap in the final circuits around Grande Prairie. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin), Ryan Roth (Silber), Dan Eaton (Axeon), and Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing) attacked inside of the final 6km and held it until the final few kilometers.

Orica-GreenEdge took control of the sprint to set up Matthews, and he delivered with a win, although Arndt closed fast in the final 25 meters, making it a nail-biter. Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) was third in the sprint.

Thanks to time bonuses, Matthews will wear the yellow leader’s jersey on stage 3 Friday. However, he may not keep it much longer as the 181.8km stage climbs from Grande Cache to Jasper National Park and features an uphill finish.