The Australian finished third on the Via Roma behind John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). It’s a marked improvement on his debut Milan-San Remo, when he finished more than 10 minutes behind the leading group, but he felt like it could have been more.
“It’s also a little disappointing coming so close to winning San Remo and coming a little bit short in the final,” Matthews said at the finish. “On the Poggio, I was in really good shape so I’m a little bit disappointed in the final to not win Milan-San Remo this year but you’ve got to be really happy with a podium finish.”
After having his first taste of the podium in such a big one-day race, he’s already eager to come back for more. “In the final there I got a little bit stuck there on the barrier and I couldn’t quite get out when John Degenkolb started his sprint. I just got a bit unlucky but I’ll come back stronger next year and try to win it.”
Matthews came into the race in strong form following his victory in the points classification at Paris-Nice – his one and only race before his ride at San Remo. He never looked like he was in trouble as the favourites group continued to dwindle under the severe pressure of the pace over the final climbs. He even looked almost fresh as he rolled back to the team bus following the podium ceremony and media obligations. In the longest one-day race of the year, it’s a good sign for someone who is only 24.
For now though, he’ll take some time to reflect on his performance before he makes his next big effort this season. “My main goal for the season was this race so I’ll go back home after this and reassess and see where we go from there,” explained Matthews.
“It’s been a really nice start to the season, and as always the Orica-GreenEdge team did a pretty good job to support me. I was always hoping to do a great result like this. I always had confidence in my form and in my team to deliver me but unfortunately we just came a little bit short.”
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