Michael Matthews' dreams came true when he took his first career stage win at the Tour de France, stage 10 in Revel on Tuesday. The Orica-BikeExchange sprinter was involved in a breakaway that included two of his teammates; Luke Durbridge and Daryl Impey, and relied on their strength in numbers to bring him into perfect position to sprint for the win ahead of world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).
Matthews had two tough attempts at the French Grand Tour so far. The first in 2014 when he missed his debut due to injury and the second in 2015, which was almost as cruel. He started the race as one of the favourites for the sprints but was involved in a high-speed crashed during stage 3. Despite breaking three ribs he finished in Paris.
This time around, the Australian took his first career Tour de France stage victory and the team's first win in this year's race.
Stage 10, a 197km dash from Escaldes-Engordany to Revel, started out tough, with a 24km climb from Andorra La Viella over the Port d'Envalira that reached its highest point at 2,408 metres. Following the climb, the riders descended into the flat section of the race all the way to Revel, with the exception of a short 1.8km climb; Cote de Saint Ferreol, before the finish.
A nine-rider break eventually formed on the descent that included Sagan, who initially drove the beginnings of the move, Matthews, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Mikel Landa (Team Sky), Gorke Izagirre (Movistar), Sam Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Damiano Caruso (BMC). They were later joined by Boasson Hagen, Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Durbridge and Impey, and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie).
The large break split up on a small climb, and then again as Sagan drove the pace with Matthews, Durbridge and Impey, along with Boasson Hagen, Dumoulin, Van Avermaet in tow.
Durbridge took the riders through the first of three roundabouts heading into the foot of the Cote de Saint Ferreol. Matthews as the most protected rider in the mix, watched as his teammates stayed at the front on the steep beginning of the climb with Sagan sitting on their wheel, and Matthews right behind him.
Sagan made a small attack, but then looked back as Impey jumped around him and nearly cleared the group, while Durbridge dropped off the back.
Sagan was forced to chase again and once caught, Impey made a second dig that forced Sagan to again put forth the chase, while Matthew waited patiently on his wheel.
Van Avermaet was the first to start his sprint in the final 200 metres. Sagan struggled to close the gap, but Matthews' quick reaction was all he needed to take the stage win, leaving Sagan in second while Boasson Hagen came through for third.