“I was quite confident going into the stage. We did a recon of the final climb yesterday and I knew what I was in for, it just came down to what legs I had today.
It turned out I had really good legs, got myself over the climb and I knew from that reduced bunch I had a pretty good chance of cleaning up the sprint.
The Yates brothers were following a lot of attacks in the final five kilometres, which was great that I didn’t have to worry about any of them.
There wasn’t any lead out trains, it was more of a grovel, so I just placed myself within the top five in the final and started my sprint a little earlier, rather than waiting like I did in San Remo, so I couldn’t get boxed in.”
"I'm happy with today's stage. It was a hard final with the 2nd category climb where we didn't reach the summit until 13.5 km before the finish. It was not so easy to control because there were guys trying to escape on that climb, but the team rode perfectly. I had Tony, Carlos Verona, and Petr Vakoc with me in the front group. I also had my other teammates put me into perfect position going into the climb, as it was basically a sprint to get to the front before then. It was really nervous all the way to the line. Everyone wanted to show themselves as they usually do in the opening stage of this kind of race. I am happy with my 2nd place on a day like today. I waited a bit too long before launching, but sprinting is also not my top skill and Matthews is a strong guy for the sprints. He deserved the win. I had good legs in today's stage, and that is the most important thing for me, especially considering I want to fine tune my condition prior to the Ardennes Classics. As for the next stages, we will take it day-by-day."
“I did not make a good sprint today, and I am not happy with it at all. My legs were not feeling the best, and twice I had to brake in the finale because of the chaos.”
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 3:57:07
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
4 Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
8 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha