Matthews retains lead in Japan
Team Jayco Skins' Michael Matthews has held onto the lead in the Tour of Japan after riding home in second place on today's stage at Nara.
Stage 2 saw the riders complete 11 laps of a 10km circuit around the Nuriome Dam at Nara with Cristiano Salerno (Der Rosa), the sole survivor of an early breakaway, holding onto to win in a time of 2:33:21. Matthews lead home a chasing bunch four seconds later to claim second place with Japan's Shinri Suzuki third.
"Nick (Aitken) got away in the early break which took the pressure off us," said Matthews. "But when he was dropped from the leaders (two laps to go) it got a bit scary until some other teams got on the front and started driving for their sprinters.
"They pulled it back to about 25 seconds and then I called up Richie (Lang) and Pat (Lane) to try close it down for me," he explained. "They caught most of it and up last climb into the finish I hit it and got across to the dozen or so still in front.
"It was a really twisting, turning circuit which made it hard to keep under control for the boys," said Team Manager, Brian Stephens. "But they did a great job to get Michael close enough at the end and he was coming fast but just couldn't nail the leader."
Overall Matthews now leads Salerno by nine seconds with Australian Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor) in third place at 14 seconds. The Canberra 19 year old also leads the points classification of the seven day event with 30 points, five ahead of Salerno.
Tomorrow the riders will contest the Mino Washi Paper Museum Circuit stage over 160.7km.
"Tomorrow we'll follow a similar plan and see how it pans out," said Matthews. "The finish is pretty flat so if I can get there with good legs and the bunch is all together then I'll give it a crack for a stage win."