Matthews believes he can challenge Sagan
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Matthews believes he can challenge Sagan

by VeloNation Press at 8:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Australian states Rabobank team had wanted to retain him

Michael MatthewsAlthough his palmares currently do not approach those of Peter Sagan, Australian rider Michael Matthews has said that he believes he can challenge the Slovakian rider in future editions of the Tour de France.

'”I'm really close to him in most of the races so seeing him win three stages in the Tour and me sitting at home watching it on TV was pretty hard,” Matthews told the Canberra Times.

“I think maybe next year I might be ready to give [the Tour] a go. I think this year it was nice to watch it on the TV and make myself more angry and excited to go there for next year.”

The 2010 world under 23 champion turned professional last season with the Rabobank team. He has taken several wins including stages in the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under and Vuelta a Murcia, as well as the Rund um Köln and the Clásica de Almería.

However his Rabobank team decided not to select him for the Tour de France, perhaps in part as he is still just 21.

Sagan won three stages plus the green jersey in his Tour debut this year. He is nine months older than Matthews, and has already won the Tour of Poland and Giro di Sardegna, twice been national road race champion and won three stages in the 2011 Vuelta a España.

Many see him as a rider who will go on to be dominant in the sport, including former world number one Sean Kelly. The latter told VeloNation that he even believes that Sagan has the ability to become a Grand Tour challenger>.

Matthews insists that he’s not intimidated. “[Sagan's] a really talented rider but I think I'm around the same sort of rider as him…we can both sprint pretty well and we can both climb pretty well. I think it's going to be a nice battle between us in the future.”

On Wednesday he confirmed he was moving to Australia’s UCI WorldTour team for two years. “I chose Orica-GreenEDGE for several reasons,” he said. “Most importantly, it will be an amazing experience to be a part of an Australian team. I really look forward to racing with and learning from some of the best Australian riders in the world.”

He confirms now that Rabobank wanted to give him a three year extension, and were disappointed when he instead said that he planned to leave.

''Rabobank weren't too happy because I was their young rising star. They wanted to keep me for the next three years but they can understand it's an Australian professional team and it's the first one,” he said. “So they understand I want to be a part of that.

“It was always a dream of mine to go from the under-23 ranks straight into an Australian pro team but [the team] didn't come quite as fast as I wanted to. It was nice to get two years in the European system, get the experience from that.”


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