One day after holding off Matthews for the win, Van Avermaet could not come around the Australian in the gradual uphill bunch sprint that capped the 210.3-kilometre race.
"I think I was in good position, but with 300 or 400 metres to go, the guys from Bontrager came with Jasper Stuyven and then I was a little bit blocked in," Van Avermaet said. "Matthews started his sprint before me, at maybe 150 or 200 to go. I feel that I can go maybe a little bit faster, but I was too late and the finish was there."
Matthews finished third at the day's second sprint line, earning the time bonus that moved him one-second ahead of Van Avermaet. Chris Jones (UnitedHealthcare) is third overall, 11 seconds back. Van Avermaet said losing the lead was not a huge disappointment. "The overall is not a goal for me and it's also better to save the team a little bit for the other stages so we can attack more and try to do something," he said. Van Avermaet's runner-up finish was his 18th top 10 result of the season.
The BMC Racing Team covered several attacks in the first hour of racing before letting two riders slip up the road. For the next 100 kilometres, the BMC Racing Team kept the breakaway within striking distance while rotating four riders on the front. That made the race all the more difficult, Julien Taramarcaz said.
"At the beginning of the mountains, RadioShack was coming with a couple of guys to help us, but already there were only 50 kilometres to go, so we had a pretty hard day," he said. "We got Greg on the front, but it was not an easy sprint for us because it was a long, straight line and maybe not the best for Greg. But he was still runner-up, so it was not such a bad day for us." BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said being one-second out of the lead does have its benefits. "It's nice we don't have to control the race anymore," he said. "But for sure, stage wins are still our No. 1 goal. We'll see how the general classification starts to play out on Thursday, especially with the climb to Mt. Nebo."
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