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REVEL, France (VN) — Australian Michael Matthews has a love-hate affair with the Tour, which involved false starts and abandons, but it improved significantly Tuesday with a win in stage 10.
The Australian known as “Bling” racked up stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, but found the Tour a different race altogether. In 2014, he was due to start but crashed in training days before, and though he travelled to Yorkshire in hopes of improving in time, the damage meant that he could not debut. That debut came in 2015, but Matthews suffered broken ribs when caught up in the mega-crash during stage 3. He continued on to Paris, but was too damaged to win along the way.
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“This win was three years in the making,” Matthews said. “I crashed when I was meant to fly to UK. Last year, I crashed on stage 3 and broke four ribs, and this year, I’ve already crashed two times. I was almost giving up on the race, thinking maybe the Tour isn’t for me. I’ve had so much bad luck in this race.”
It was not luck, but firepower that brought Matthews his win in Revel, a small town in France’s southwest known for its cassoulet. Matthews and two of his teammates, Daryl Impey and Luke Durbridge, were able to fight for a place in the early escape. It decreased to only 15 men and then to seven, but Matthews still had his two helpers.
It was Orica’s race to lose given the numbers it had in the escape.
“I got in to the break with Sagan and was a bit unsure what was going to happen. Then I hear on the radio that Luke Durbridge and Daryl Impey were coming across to us. From then I knew it was game on,” Matthews said.
“Luke rode the perfect race for me. He split break in two pieces and got rid of some key guys. Daryl attacked Sagan hard on the climb, I don’t know how many times, he even came over the top and did the lead-out, too. I can’t ask for more.”
Orica wanted the team win and the head sport director Matt White said that they worked hard for Matthews even if he is leaving the team at the end of the season. VeloNews sources say he will ride for Giant – Alpecin, but the German team has to wait until August 1 to announce it due to cycling’s rules.
The team will now turn its attention to Brit Adam Yates, who is riding to defend his second place in the overall classification behind Chris Froome (Sky) and his white jersey.
Bling Matthews made headlines in 2010 when he won the under-23 world championships and charmed everyone with his funky dancing. Professional wins came immediately, two in the Giro and three in the Vuelta.
On the rest day yesterday, his wife visited with their dog, and the two walked Escaldes’s streets. His wife, he said, motivated him and encouraged him to push ahead for a Tour win.
“I dedicate this win to wife and my dog Gee-gee,” Matthews added.