It took Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) just four attempts to open his 2015 account, claiming stage three of Paris-Nice which also elevated him into the overall race lead by one second. The 24-year-old won the uphill sprint over Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) as the race finished in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule for his first victory since stage three of the 2014 Vuelta a España.
Matthews consistency at the race, finishing inside the top ten on three previous occasions, along with his resourcefulness in sprinting for bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint points meant multiple visits to the podium for the Australian, including for the yellow jersey
"The last few days we have been trying to go for a few intermediate sprints and ended up with a few bonus seconds," said Matthews, who disposed world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) from the overall lead. "That's how it was possible to take the yellow jersey.
"To put it all together and take the win and the jersey in one day, it's really a special day," added Matthews, who also leads the young rider and points classifications.
With his GreenEdge teammates driving the peloton to the line in the final five kilometres, Matthews explained he was left with very little work to do to claim his first win on French soil.
"Full credit to the team for the win, it was all them," Matthews said. "I just had to do the last 200 metres and that was probably the easy part."
When the day's breakaway was reeled in with 10km to race, Romain Bardet and Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale) joined the sole survivor in front, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), to interrupt the sprinter's teams run in the finish line but the trio was no match for the fire power of GreenEdge as they were caught with two kilometres to go.
"We had a good meeting this morning and said everyone is in good shape and if we work together we can really nail this. The way they rode was absolutely text book, it was exactly the way we talked about in the meeting, I couldn't ask for a better lead out," Matthews said of the team tactics for the day.
"From four kilometres to go we dominated the race and we showed our strength in the lead out and no one could come near us with the horse power we had."
With stage four concluding with the tough summit finish on the Croix de Chaubouret, Matthews added that he expects to lose the yellow jersey but will do his best to honour it.
"I have been looking at tomorrow from a long way out," he said. "It's going to be a hard climb 100%, but I'm going to do my best to try and hang on as long as possible, if not all the way to the top.
"If I can't hold on, then I want to ride with respect to the jersey, all the way to the finish."
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