If Michael Matthews' first bunch sprint win for Orica-GreenEdge in the Vuelta a Espana's stage 5 was something of a surprise - but well-deserved nonetheless - his second, in Madrid and two lengths clear of America's Tyler Farrar represented the confirmation that a new young sprinter has arrived in town.
Matthews' second stage win, coming at the end of his first Grand Tour, was another big step up for the 22-year-old, and he took it in style, outgunning Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Germany's Niklas Arndt (Argos-Shimano) with a long sprint up the centre of Madrid's Castellana avenue. It took him clear enough for the Australian to raise his arms even before he reached the finish.
"A win like this, you remember it for the rest of your life," Matthews said after conclusively proving he knows how to go the distance in three-week stage races. "I've only got four teammates with me here now but they put me in the perfect position and kept me out of the wind."
"I was still with one leadout rider with one kilometre to go, where I was fourth wheel already, and I then got the perfect leadout. I was second wheel with 200 metres to go. I was in exactly the right position to do my job for the final."
Simply getting through a Grand Tour is a major achievement for a young rider like Matthews, and he said he had had some rough moments. "The hardest day of the Vuelta was the one to Sierra Nevada [stage 10], that really scarred me," he said.
"There was not any real reason, it was hard but so were other stages, but I really didn't have the best day on a bike there."
Matthews only found out on Saturday night that he will be doing the world championships for Australia, and he said he did not wish to dwell on that upcoming challenge just yet.
"First I want to celebrate this, getting two stage wins in my first Grand Tour, it's a dream come true to do that. I'll start to think about the Worlds a little later."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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