Giro d’Italia stage 3 winner Michael Matthews let out a huge shout of joy as he crossed the finish line in first place in Melfi, but as the Australian explained later, his latest victory, and there are plenty of them, had been no ordinary triumph for him.
As recently as a fortnight before starting the Giro d’Italia, Matthews, 32, had been entertaining thoughts of retirement, he told reporters afterwards, after a very tough start to the season.
But instead, he turned things around in dramatic fashion at the Giro d’Italia, claiming his third Giro stage win and tenth in a Grand Tour almost as early as possible for him in the race. If Matthews was ever away, he’s certainly back now.
“To sum up, it’s been a roller coaster this season,” Matthews told reporters. “After last year with a stage win of the Tour de France and getting bronze at the Worlds, I had a really good end to last season and I wanted to stay on a roll. I wanted to start this season like I ended last season.”
“Instead, I had Covid at Paris-Nice, so I couldn’t do some Classics like Milan-San Remo and then I crashed badly at Flanders.”
“With the team bringing me here, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but they backed me 110% riding from kilometre zero. I can’t thank the team enough for this opportunity.”
“The boys did a time trial of 212km today. For them, for Gerry [Ryan, team owner], for Brent [Copeland, team manager], for the whole team – this win was me showing my appreciation back to them.”
Heading: Overcoming the doubts
Matthews explained that such had been the dip in his performance, he had even begun to think about taking early retirement in mid-April. But instead, he battled on.
“I think a couple of weeks ago, I was contemplating whether I wanted to do this anymore. I had a few weeks off the bike to assess my situation and spoke with some people to help me with my decision.”
“But I knew that cycling is my sport, my goal, my hobby, my dream. I wouldn’t want to do something else. I’m getting emotional, now but this isn’t just another win. it’s something special.”
“On the podium, I heard it had been eight years since I’d won a stage of the Giro, that makes me feel very old, unfortunately.”
“To come back and win in the Giro like I did here on a tough parcours – it’s not just another win, it’s a win for the whole team. And it’s a win for everyone involved in helping me get back to the top level of my sport.”
That Matthews could come back to the pinnacle and take such a big victory is in fact…
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