Michael Matthews capped off his debut race of 2015 by claiming the points classification at Paris-Nice which he led after winning stage three. Matthews, who won stages at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España last year, entered the race off the back of a training camp in South Africa unsure of how he would perform in his first race of the season but quickly found his racing legs.
"It's been a dream of mine to win the green jersey in a stage race like Paris-Nice," said Matthews, who finished six points ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in the classification. "We went into the week optimistic about where my form would be as the first race of the season. The first days we tried a few things and got racing back in the legs and on the third day we nailed it, we took the stage win with a really good effort by the whole team.
"From then on I knew I had a good chance at keeping the green jersey, so we tried to get as many intermediates and points at the finish line as we could," Matthews said of his race tactics.
Matthews also spent stage four in the leader's yellow jersey courtesy of his consistent high finishes and the bonus seconds picked up throughout the week that helped secure the points classification.
GreenEdge sport director Laurenzo Lapage added that Matthews' success meant it was a good week for the team in its first European WorldTour race of the season.
"We finished with a stage win and the green jersey and I don't think we could have reached better," Lapage said. "The green jersey is a result of teamwork and because we were there everyday with Bling [Matthews], it's a definitely a sweetener to go home with."
Matthews will lead Orica-GreenEdge at Milan-San Remo this Sunday with the aim of becoming the third Australian in five years to win the Italian monument after Matt Goss (2011) and Simon Gerrans (2012).
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