SALT LAKE CITY -- Fast and furious, indeed.
Australia's Michael Matthews raced to his second stage victory in the Tour of Utah on Friday in downtown Salt Lake City, sprinting uphill to edge Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet at the finish line.
Matthews, riding for Orica GreenEdge, also won the second stage. He hung close to Van Avermaet's rear wheel through all five laps in the 33.8-mile stage and, with the final kilometer remaining, engaged in a sprinting duel with him to the finish line.
Matthews crossed ahead of Van Avermaet by just a few lengths with a winning time of 1 hour, 10 minutes, 17 seconds.
"It wasn't a typical sprint," Matthews said. "I had to play my cards in following Greg in the sprint and see what legs I had left at the finish."
Van Avermaet, riding for BMC, finished second for the third straight stage after winning the first leg. Belgium's Jasper Stuyven, riding for Bontrager Devo, was third.
Australia's Lachlan Morton, the Garmin-Sharp rider who won the third stage Thursday, remained atop the overall standings -- 26 seconds ahead of Van Avermaet. American Lucas Euser, riding for UnitedHealthcare, remained third -- 40 seconds back.
Morton's lead is not safe by any means. There are 16 riders who are less than a minute behind him and several could easily overtake him with a strong finish in either of the final two stages.
"I'm sure it is going to be really aggressive," Morton said. "There's a lot of people who can win this race. We got our work cut out, but we're in the best position of everyone."
A group of five riders led for a majority of the five laps before it whittled down to just American Craig Lewis, a Champion Systems Pro rider. Lewis held off the peloton for several miles before finally being absorbed in the final mile -- paving the way for Matthews to make his charge at the end.
"I knew it wasn't going to last, but I was glad to make it as long as I did," Lewis said.
Team Garmin-Sharp's Lachlan Morton (Australia) finished safely in the bunch to retain his Larry H. Miller Dealership's overall leader jersey. He has a 26-second lead over Van Avermaet.
"We pretty much had to commit from the start because nobody else was going to help us," Matthews said of his strategy to win the stage. "Our goal was to make sure I was in the best position into the climb (on State Street), which was on Greg's wheel... because he was obviously the favorite on today's stage."
Morton and his Garmin-Sharp team rode a competitive but safe race, trying to avoid crashes and losing time to BMC's Van Avermaet.
Huge crowds turned out for the 34-mile Stage Four presented by University of Utah Healthcare, using a 6.8-mile circuit through the downtown Avenues community.
The fifth stage today is a 113.5-mile ride from Snowbasin Ski Resort outside Ogden to Snowbird Ski Resort outside Salt Lake City.
The race will end Sunday.