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Matthews returns from injury to lead Sunweb at Milan-San Remo

Michael Matthews will lead Team Sunweb at this weekend’s Milan-San Remo, with the team happy that he has sufficiently recovered from a fractured shoulder to contest the first monument of the season. Tom Dumoulin, who was forced to abandon Tirreno-Adriatico following a crash, has also been named in the seven-rider line-up.

Matthews crashed heavily during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, his first race of the season, just under three weeks ago. While he was able to finish the race, subsequent tests revealed that he had fractured his shoulder and he was immediately ruled out of Strade Bianche the following weekend. Tirreno-Adriatico was also on his calendar, but the team made the call to replace him with Chad Haga for the week-long race. Despite such a recent injury, Sunweb said in an update on the team website that they were confident Matthews was ready to compete.

“Michael has been progressing very well after fracturing his shoulder at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He has been able to do some high-quality training in the past week, with tolerable pain levels and we are confident he’s ready to race again on Saturday at Milan-San Remo,” they wrote.

Matthews has made no bones about his desire to win Milan-San Remo and has geared his early season around La Primavera in recent seasons. He made a major step forward when he finished third in 2015. However, a crash in the 2016 race but paid to his hope then, while he was unable to go with the race-winning attack of Peter Sagan, Michal Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe last season. Supporting Matthews will be sprinters Nikias Arndt and Edward Theuns, along with time triallist Lennard Kamna, road captain Roy Curvers and climber Sam Oomen.

Dumoulin, who put in an aggressive performance in last year’s race, is expected to play an important role in the finale, which includes the crucial ascents of the Cipressa and the Poggio. Dumoulin has had a difficult preparation for the race. After suffering carrying a cold from Strade Bianche into Tirreno-Adriatico, Dumoulin was forced to abandon on stage 4 when he crashed on a descent. The Dutchman received some bruising but avoided any broken bones. Simon Geschke, who was meant to be riding Milan-San Remo, wasn’t as lucky. Geschke crashed the day before Dumoulin at Tirreno-Adriatico, when a rider came down in front of him, and broke his collarbone. Despite a challenging few weeks, the team remains confident ahead of the Monument.

"We go into the first Monument of the season with Michael as our team leader. We're happy he's back after fracturing his shoulder at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad,” explained directeur sportif Marc Reef. “His fracture has been healing well and he has been able to do some high-quality training over the past week.

“Despite losing Simon as a key support rider with a fractured collarbone sustained during Tirreno Adriatico and Søren who's still struggling with sickness, we line up with a very strong team ready to tackle a tough final on Saturday. Also back in action after crashing out of Tirreno Adriatico is Tom, and he will be one of the key support riders for the final. Roy is our road captain and starts his seventh Milan-San Remo, so we have an experienced guy to lead the team. After a really tough week, we remain positive and look forward to the first Monument of the season."

Milan-San Remo takes place on Saturday, March 17 and Cyclingnews will have live coverage of the race from start to finish.

Team Sunweb for Milan-San Remo: Nikias Arndt, Roy Curvers, Tom Dumoulin, Lennard Kamna, Michael Matthews, Sam Oomen and Edward Theuns.

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