By Gregor Brown
Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) came off the heels of Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in the final metres of the uphill finish to Arcos de la Frontera to win Vuelta a España stage three today. With the win and bonus seconds, he took over the race leader's red jersey from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
"We had to take control from the start because we had a good chance for me to win a stage," Matthews said. "As you could see, none of my team-mates were left at the finish because they worked so hard."
The hard work gave Matthews the lead by four seconds on Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar), 11 on Valverde and 15 on Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Chris Froome (Sky) moves up to 17th place, 31 seconds adrift of Matthews.
After a push by Katusha, including Daniel Caruso with a small gap, Martin took over at 200 metres. Matthews, 23, came around the outside of a left-hand curve and edged out Martin, who banged his handlebars in frustration.
Matthews won a stage and led the Giro d'Italia for six days this May. He was due to race the Tour de France but crashed training beforehand. He returned and wasted no time to fly Orica's green and blue colours by winning the 197.8-kilometre third stage.
"It's a dream come true to have all this success in one year," added Matthews. "It feels great to have my season end here with a stage and the red jersey already. It couldn't be better".
Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) finished third, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) sixth, Moreno held on for ninth and Froome placed 10th.
Five men escaped around 10 kilometres in and led for much of the stage: Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Mas Bonet (Caja Rural), Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) and Jérôme Cousin (Europcar). Bonet remained free the longest, seeing the end of his time near 25 kilometres to go.
A crash involved two Movistar riders Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas and Adriano Malori, and nearly brought down Froome and yesterday's sprint winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr).
Orica, Katusha and Omega Pharma led for much of the remaining kilometres, including the tricky right turn onto a narrow bridge at 2.5 kilometres. From there, the riders raced single-file and found it hard to manoeuvre on the tight and twisty city streets. Moreno and Martin tried, but 'Bling' Matthews had the most gas left in his take after the 1.5-kilometre rise into Arcos de la Frontera.
Vuelta a Espana 2014, stage three: Cadiz to Arcos de la Frontera, 197.8km
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 5-12-14
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin
5. Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
7. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
10. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 9-27-53
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 4 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 11 secs
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 15 secs
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 17 secs
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 17 secs
7. George Bennett (NZl) Cannondale at 20 secs
8. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing at 20 secs
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing at 20 secs
10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 22 secs
17. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 31 secs
23. Peter Kenaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 38 secs
102. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 3-41
169. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 6-19
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