After a fine start to the 2014 road season Michael Matthews has earned a slot on Orica GreenEdge's Giro d’Italia team. The 23-year-old sprinter is the only member of the Australian WorldTour team to win in Europe this year.
Having won two stages during his Grand Tour debut in last year's Vuelta Espana, Matthews will get another chance to rub shoulders with the worlds' top sprinters in May. The news means that Matthew Goss will miss the Giro and head to the Amgen Tour of California and Tour de Suisse.
Matthews won the Vuelta a La Rioja earlier this month and backed it up with a stage win in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco last week.
"He rode a very good Paris-Nice as well," team director Matt White told Cyclingnews.
"However some of the stages were just that little bit to hard for him. He led home the bunch on one stage after there was a break and he was up there in a few stages but faded on the climbs. He's had great form and I will be taking Michael to the Giro. Goss will do California and Suisse."
At the start of the season White had told Cyclingnews that Orica-GreenEdge's Giro sprint options would be decided over form and it appears that a similar approach will be made ahead of this year’s Tour de France.
"The Tour team hasn't been decided," he told Cyclingnews this week.
"We want to see how those guys are going in the months leading up to it but we’re in two minds on what the team make up will: how much emphasis we put in the sprint group and whether we take more opportunists."
The Australian WorldTour team started the year with a bang, winning nine races in the opening two months of the racing calendar, the highlight of which was Simon Gerrans's stage and overall success at the Santos Tour Down Under. Since then the team has struggled somewhat in Europe. Gerrans has battled with bouts of sickness but will lead the team into this weekend's Amstel Gold Race, where White believes that their leader has a chance of victory.
"He went to the Basque Country to prepare for the up coming week. He's definitely our lead for Amstel but he will then skip Fleche-Wallonne."
"With Liege-Bastogne-Liege, we have a number of different cards but normally with that race it's just that little bit too hard, so I wouldn't put him in that group that can win Liege. He's finished top ten a couple of times but I think that with the likes of [Alejandro] Valverde climbing so well he'll run out of legs but Amstel is definitely winnable."