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Groenewegen and Matthews combine to take on Tour de France sprint rivals

MOOSALP SWITZERLAND JUNE 17 Michael Matthews of Australia and Team BikeExchange Jayco competes in the breakaway during the 85th Tour de Suisse 2022 Stage 6 a 1775km stage from Locarno to Moosalp 2048m ourdesuisse2022 WorldTour on June 17 2022 in Moosalp Switzerland Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Michael Matthews will lead BikeExchange-Jayco's dual sprint strategy at the Tour de France (Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Sprint duo Dylan Groenewegen and Michael Matthews will share team leadership at BikeExchange-Jayco as they try to take on and beat their sprint rivals at the 2022 Tour de France and win as many stages as possible.

The Australian team has opted to build its entire eight-rider roster around Groenewegen and Matthews, creating a full lead-out train for the sprint opportunities and aggressive stages such as stage 2 to Nyborg and the Paris-Roubaix cobbles of stage 5.

Matthews will target the hillier stages, breakaways and even the yellow jersey in the opening stages but will not target the green points jersey. Groenewegen is back at the Tour de France for the first time since the 2019 and his subsequent ban for sparking Fabio Jakobsen's crash at the 2020 Tour de Pologne.

The Dutchman has started a new chapter of his career with BikeExchange-Jayco and is keen to re-establish his place as one of the best sprinters in the world.

He will take on the likes of Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) and Jakobsen, who leads QuickStep-AlphaVinyl's sprint hopes.

"You're the sprint man," Matthews joked to Groenewegen as they spoke about their chances and ambitions in Copenhagen.

"In the pure sprints, when Dylan is there, he's the fastest guy in the world, we'll do everything we can do with a full lead out train so he can do his best sprint. When the stages are more undulating, when Dylan is probably not there, they'll be for me."

Groenewegen knows he will have to suffer through the mountain stages if he wants to win on the Champs-Elysées in Paris but has set the early sprint stages and the final stage as something to aim at. He won a stage in 2019 and was in the top three on three occasions. He has won five times since joining BikeExchange-Jayco but the Tour de France is a step up for his ambitions.

Stage victories and placings from both Groenewegen and Matthews will help the team score vital UCI ranking points in the fight to avoid WorldTour relegation.

"The Tour de France is always interesting and hectic, but I believe in our sprint team. We've done some good sprints so far, now we have to show it at the Tour," he said.

"I had a hard time after the Poland crash and last year came back at the Giro, but the Tour de France is special for me. This team wanted me for the sprints and the Tour de France. I'm happy to be back and thank the team for giving me a chance to show it again."

Matthews admits he has a love-hate relationship with the Tour de France but appeared confident about his form this year.

"The Tour is a real rollercoaster for me. I've had a few highs and lots of lows," he said sincerely, referring to his green points jersey success in 2017 and a number of other disappointments. 

"I'm really excited to be back. The team is super motivated to support us. I feel good, really good."

The green jersey is not a goal for Matthews this year but an early spell in the yellow jersey is. Matthews will go flat out in Friday's opening time trial and then hope to take the race lead in the first week.

"I think a course like this opens up some interesting racing in the first week," he said.

"It'll be very hectic with the cobbles and the cross winds. The TT start suits a lot of riders, a lot are going for yellow, and we're interested in it too. I'll do my best TT and see how close I get, then I'll stay up there and try to take yellow for a couple of days.

"Green is not a goal this year. When we won it, it was all out for it, and we contrasted every intermediate sprint. But that takes energy and stops me trying to go in breakaways to win other stages.

"Dylan is the fastest in the world for flat sprints and we have me for the others. We're going to use our energy to try to take as many wins as we can."

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.