Michael Matthews wins 1st stage of Tour of Basque Country
BILBAO, Spain (AP) Michael Matthews of Australia won a sprint finish to claim the first stage of the Tour of Basque Country on Monday.
The Orica GreenEdge rider used a burst of speed to pull away from the front of the pack and beat world champion Michal Kwiatkowski by a bike length.
Matthews and the other leading riders completed the 162.7-kilometer (101-mile) ride starting and finishing in Bilbao in 3 hours, 57 minutes, 7 seconds.
''The race was very difficult with some really steep back-to-back climbs, but I had some really good legs going into the sprint and it ended up being enough for the win,'' Matthews said.
It was Matthews' second stage win of the season.
Omar Fraile of Caja Rural led the race for a long stretch after he pulled away from two other riders who formed an early breakaway, but the Spaniard was reeled in on the second of two climbs over the category-two Alto de Vivero with 17 kilometers left.
Tuesday's second stage is a hilly 175.4-kilometer (108.9-mile) ride from Bilbao to Vitoria. In last year's race, Matthews won the stage finishing in Vitoria.
''We are in for a good week,'' said Matthews. ''I won in Vitoria last year and it suits me very well.''