Mitchelton-Scott have announced the signing of Michael Matthews on a two-year deal, just hours after Team Sunweb's earlier announcement that they would be releasing the Australian from his contract with the team.
Matthews rejoins Mitchelton-Scott after four seasons at the German team, which saw him win two Tour de France stages among 12 victories, all WorldTour races. Matthews had expected to target the Tour de France and spring Classics this season, but surprisingly missed out on selection for the Tour, while his Giro d'Italia selection means he'll miss the rescheduled Classics too.
The 29-year-old opened his 2020 season at Paris-Nice and returned to racing at Milan-San Remo, where he finished third despite suffering a hand injury on the Poggio, Last week he won the Bretagne Classic-Ouest France ahead of Mitchelton-Scott's Luka Mezgec.
"I saw a moment where it just felt right. As a sprinter and as a rider you feel moments like this and sometimes you just have to go with instinct," Matthews said in a Mitchelton-Scott press release.
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"The opportunity was there to come back and you have to take them when they are there. At this moment in my career it just felt right, and the team has welcomed me back with open arms which is really special.
"I'm definitely happy to be coming back, I have some amazing memories from GreenEdge. Gerry Ryan supported me through my under-19 and under-23 days and also in helping me turn professional, so it just feels like coming home."
Matthews went on to say that he'll be racing for his own results as a leader but is also looking forward to racing as part of a team targeting the general classification at Grand Tours. Last year, he had trained specifically to support Tom Dumoulin – who departed Sunweb for 2020 – at the Tour de France and was left lacking his top sprint form after the Dutchman's Giro knee injury.
"I want to get my own results, but also to be a part of the team that has GC goals as well," Matthews said. "We will have Simon Yates that can win the biggest Grand Tour's in the world and I would love to be part of that and there's some young guys coming through, to help them progress too.
"I wouldn't put it down to one particular race or result to make the next two years successful, but I want to progress as a rider and as a teammate and enjoy races."
The future of Mitchelton-Scott looked to have been in troubled earlier this year, though a deal with Spanish non-profit Manuela Fundación seemed to save the nine-year-old team. However, the deal quickly collapsed amid disagreements over the nature of the deal, but team owner Gerry Ryan later committed to funding the team for two more seasons.
Ryan said that he's happy to bring Matthews "back home" on an Australian squad, the team where he grew into a major rider with multiple stage wins at the Vuelta a España, Giro d'Italia and Paris-Nice, among others.
"I have followed Michael's journey from an aspiring junior to the world-class rider he is today and to witness the transition, both on and off the bike, has been incredibly satisfying for me," Ryan said.
"Michael is a one-of-a-kind rider and has given this organisation some of our most spectacular victories on the world's biggest stage, including the Tour de France. We couldn't be happier to have him back home – this is where he belongs."
Mitchelton-Scott general manager Brent Copeland, a relatively new addition from Bahrain McLaren in the wake of the Manuela Fundación deal collapsing, said that he's excited to welcome Matthews aboard, thanking Ryan for helping enable the deal.
"It is with great pleasure that we welcome Michael to the team," Copeland said. "First and foremost a big thanks to Gerry for making this agreement become a reality, Michael's presence in the team helps us come full circle with the team roster that we have been working meticulously on in the past few months together with Darach McQuaid and Matthew White as well as with the team's technical staff.
"He is a rider who brings a huge amount of excitement to racing as well as being a true personality that fits in exceptionally well with the team culture. We are sure the Australian and worldwide fans are just as excited as we are about the return of Michael and we are looking forward to a solid future ahead of us."
✒️‼️ BLING IS BACK ‼️🖋"At this moment in my career it just felt right... it just feels like coming home." - @blingmatthews 🎙We are excited to announce that 8-time GT stage winner Michael Matthews will return to the team in 2021. 🎉🥳🤗📰 https://t.co/KccBAKafTm pic.twitter.com/7GoPIs8J5eAugust 30, 2020
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