Australia’s Michael Matthews won the third stage of the Tour of Utah on Thursday, while Christian Vandevelde retained the overall lead.
Matthews reckoned that a shorter course with fewer climbs compared with what he would face later in the week gave him a decent chance at a stage victory. His goal was simply to survive as long as he could and be in the mix at the finish line.
“I can climb OK, but not if they go really fast up there on long climbs,” Matthews said. “Today, I just wanted to survive and see what I had left for the finish if I was still there.”
Matthews broke away from the pack twice, emerging first from the peloton in the final sprint over the last 10km. He finished the 137.1km stage from Ogden that featured 2.6km of vertical climbs in 3 hours, 24 minutes, 7 seconds. Swiss rider Michael Schar was second, and Brent Bookwalter finished third for the second time in three days.
Vandevelde had a cumulative time of 9:12.23. Thomas Danielson was second and David Zabriskie third — both with the same time as Vandevelde. Fourth-place Peter Stetina was 30 seconds back with three stages remaining.
Matthews and four other riders broke away from the peloton early. Matthews stayed ahead for much of the stage before fading on the final climb. However, Matthews recovered enough to work his way back to the front of the pack.
“We saved a lot of energy by being in the front rather than back in the peloton with their surging and stopping and attacking each other,” Matthews said. “It was a good tactical decision for us.”
Once he had an outside position near the front, Matthews made a charge on the final descent into Salt Lake City and barely beat Schar and Bookwalter across the finish line.
The fourth stage yesterday was a 214.7km leg from Lehi to Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
Germany’s Marcel Kittel of the Argos team won Thursday’s fourth stage of the Eneco Tour of the Low Countries, edging Belgium’s Juergen Roelandts and Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo.
Kittel triumphed after winning a bunched sprint to land his second stage win of the edition following a 213km ride from Heers in Belgium to Bergen-op-Zoom in the Netherlands.
Belgium’s Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma took the leader’s jersey from compatriot Jens Keukeleire of Orica-GreenEdge.
“It was very hard — at 800m from the line, I was still in fifteenth position,” said Kittel, 24. “Then Tom Veelers and John Degenkolb brought me forward. At 500m, I even had a short moment to rest. I don’t know how they exactly did that, but it was fantastic.”