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Matthews 'all-in' for a stage victory at the Vuelta a España

SAINTLARYSOULAN COL DU PORTET FRANCE JULY 14 Michael Matthews of Australia and Team BikeExchange and Teammates at start during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 17 a 1784km stage from Muret to SaintLarySoulan Col du Portet 2215m LeTour TDF2021 on July 14 2021 in SaintLarySoulan Col du Portet France Photo by Chris GraythenGetty Images
Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) at the Tour de France (Image credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Team BikeExchange sprinter Michael Matthews is back in action at the Vuelta a España on Saturday and resumes his search for his maiden win of the season, his first back at the Australian team.

The 30-year-old has said that he is focused to get a win on the board at the race as he seeks to add to the three stage wins he took in Spain back in 2013 and 2014.

Matthews told a pre-race press conference, including Cyclingnews, that he isn't using the race solely to prepare for the upcoming World Championships in Flanders, instead saying he's going "all-in" for a win in Spain.

"I am focused and ready to try and win here at the Vuelta. Everything has gone well between the Tour de France and now, so I am not here to try and prepare for something else, I am here to try and get the best out of this Vuelta and I think with the team we brought here we have a good selection of stages to go for.

"After this, I will reset and then think about the World Championships, but here it is really focused on trying to win, give the best form I can on the day and go all in."

Matthews likened the BikeExchange team present at the Vuelta to the squad which went to the Tour de France – another group who were taking aim at stage victories.

At the Vuelta, Matthews will be racing alongside fellow sprinter Luka Mezgec, climbers Lucas Hamilton and Mikel Nieve, and Damien Howson, Nick Schultz, Robert Stannard, and Andrey Zeits.

"Here we pretty much have the same sort of team as at the Tour de France, not all the same riders but the same style of team for the Vuelta," he said. "It's not a huge lead-out – it is just myself and Luka Mezgec again, but we have some great options for the climbs which can also help me on stages that are a little bit lumpy and then finish with a sprint.

"There are a lot of flat stages but a few where it's sort of intermediate. Not too many to suit my characteristics exactly but in the end you have to race the course you have. With the team we have here we can fight on all different sorts of stages so we'll just continue to fight with what we have.

"I think from what I've seen in the team since we've been here in Spain the spirit is really good. You see a lot of teams coming to the Vuelta tired but everyone here is motivated and has brought their A-game. It's not the perfect Vuelta for me for sure but it's the kind of race where I'll fight for whatever comes at us."

Matthews admitted that he is bouncing back from the disappointment of not making the squad for the Tokyo Olympic Games – what would've been his first Games – but added that he was excited to get back to racing in Burgos on Saturday.

"One of my main targets this year was to go to the Olympics and I was really motivated for it. I didn't get selected and that's that," he said. "It was really hard for me to watch it on the TV. Even on a course which didn't suit me amazingly I think I would've done pretty well there. But that's easy to say when you're watching it on TV.

"I was really excited when I found out I was doing the Vuelta this year, after the Tour. I normally do one-day races or shorter stage races after the Tour, so this year I have the opportunity to race the Vuelta and I am really excited and ready."

Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working as a freelancer around pro cycling media for the previous seven years.