As expected when the peloton hits the Belgian roads for the opening weekend of cobbled racing: the action was fast and intense. Team Sunweb arrived with the plan to set Michael Matthews up for the finish, and despite line-up changes Team Sunweb remained determined to stick to the plan.
Team Sunweb coach Michiel Elijzen recalled at the finish line: “In the end we weren’t at the right spots at the right time but Michael came in with a good group behind the five leaders, showing his good form at this part of the season.”
Matthews himself crashed on the Molenberg before being paced back up to the head of the peloton by Casper Pedersen but that extra effort and misfortune meant that he missed the decisive move of the day.
The Team Sunweb rider had this to say at the finish: “The day didn’t really go to plan unfortunately. We had moved up nicely before the Molenberg but I somehow ended up in the trees and had to chase back from there. Casper did a great job to get me back to the second group but we just couldn’t close the final 20 seconds to the head of the race. I was totally destroyed in the end but the shape is good. Unfortunately I couldn’t show that today but it is a good sign for the races to come.”
Ultimately, Matthews sprinted for a 12th place finish out of the second main group on the road.
Elijzen concluded: “It wasn’t easy and the line-up wasn’t what we had planned but the changes had to be made due to illness. It was good for some of the guys to experience racing on the cobbles for the first time and we can be happy with what we did, and look forward to the races to come.”