Matthews vows to fight on despite yellow jersey loss
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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Matthews vows to fight on despite yellow jersey loss

by VeloNation Press at 9:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

One day after taking his first pro win, Michael Matthews (Team Jayco-Skins) had the disappointment of losing his race leader’s yellow jersey on today’s longest stage of the Tour de Langkawi.

The Australian and his team tried to control the peloton, and succeeded in keeping tabs on early breakaway attempts. However when eventual stage winner Jay Thomson (South Africa), Tobias Erler (Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team) and David Pell (Drapac Porsche Cycling) slipped clear 59 kilometres after the start, they were given a bit too much leeway.

“We had our boys in the breaks, trying to get them in there,” he told Velonation immediately after the stage to Chukai. “When that one went, it was one we didn’t think it was going to go. We let it go for a bit – the boys tried to bring it back then, but it just got too far.

“ISD got on the front and helped us for the last 50k. They got it back as much as they could, but didn’t quite get there in the end. The problem is that you don’t know how strong they are in the break, how good they are feeling on the day, the wind conditions and stuff. It was just unlucky.”

Matthews placed fourth on the stage, leading the main bunch across the line three minutes and three seconds after Thomson won the sprint. He dropped to fourth overall, and will now turn his attention to other goals.

“We will switch to [chasing] stage wins for the next couple of days,” he said. “I’ll try to keep up there on GC and see what happens on the climb.”

While many in the race seem to be suggesting that Jose Rujano will blow things apart on Saturday’s torturous Genting Highlands ascent, Matthews will head there determined to try to climb with the front runners. He is not sure how he will fare but, whatever happens, his morale has been significantly boosted by yesterday’s success.

“It was an awesome win,” he said with a smile. “It was a really hard sprint, a really hard day, the boys worked really well to get me to the sprint feeling fresh, so I had a good sprint at the end and came up with a win.”

He is just 19 years of age and clearly has a lot of ability; next step is to head to Europe and see how he compares to the riders there. “We go to Italy at the end of this month for six months, and do all the racing over there,” he explained, when asked about his plans after the Tour de Langkawi finishes. “Then we come back to Australia for the worlds.”

If yesterday’s performance is anything to go by, Matthews is another Aussie who could have a big future in store. The depth in talent in the country is extraordinary; the first big wave of riders from there, namely Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady and others, are close to ending their careers, but it seems that there’s a strong batch of replacements on the way.

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