‘This win was three years in the making’

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Tour De France: Australian Michael Matthews has won stage 10 of the Tour De France with a last ditch sprint to the finish line.

Australia’s Michael Matthews celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the tenth stage of the Tour de France.

MICHAEL Matthews has revealed his wife’s reassuring words inspired him to his breakthrough Tour de France stage win.

The Australian admitted he was close to throwing in the towel after years of bad luck at the world’s biggest bike race, but found support from partner Kat on the rest day and then on the road from his Orica-BikeExchange teammates on Stage 10.

Matthews didn’t make the start line of the 2014 Tour after crashing two days earlier, while last year he broke four ribs in a crash on Stage 3, but battled bravely to the finish.

He had already claimed stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana (2013, 2014) and Giro d’Italia (2014 and 2015).

“This win was three years in the making,” Matthews said after outsprinting world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension-Data) into Revel.

“It’s unbelievable. I was close to giving in at this race after I had two bad crashes two and one years ago,” Matthews said.

“This time around I’ve crashed three times already. I thought maybe this race is not for me, but my wife came during the rest day. We had a good talk. She kept me motivated and today my dream comes true.”

Orica-BikeExchange had set themselves for the 197km stage, which started with a 24km climb up the Port d’Envalira — the highest point of this year’s Tour — and ended just after the punchy 1.8km Côte de Saint-Ferréol.

Matthews’ teammates Luke Durbridge and Daryl Impey were critical in his maiden Tour triumph. The trio got into the breakaway and survived a split in the crosswinds with 25km to go before Durbridge and Impey sacrificed themselves to set up the win.

After Durbridge had set a strong pace approaching Saint-Ferréol, Impey softened up Sagan with a series of stinging attacks in the final kilometres that forced the world champion to chase.

Australia's Michael Matthews (L) celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of (From 2nd L) Slovakia's Peter Sagan, Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet and France's Samuel Dumoulin at the end of the 197km tenth stage.

Australia’s Michael Matthews (L) celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of (From 2nd L) Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet and France’s Samuel Dumoulin at the end of the 197km tenth stage.Source:AFP

“Durbridge and Impey gave me everything to win today. I have no word to describe what they did for me. They did a special job,” Matthews said.

“Luke rode in the crosswinds, he split the break in two pieces. We still kept guys in the finale that would be hard to beat so Impey attacked and led me out. I couldn’t ask for more from them. They would have been disappointed if I hadn’t won, but today I did. I’m delighted.”

It was a case of revenge in Revel for Matthews, who finished second to Sagan in last year’s world championships in the US.

“Me and Sagan, we’ve had a lot of head to head. At the Tour de Suisse, he beat me twice. I knew he was the man to beat today,” he said.

“He was the strongest of the breakaway for sure. He was always pulling. He never sat on. He did everything for the breakaway to succeed. He was the guy to follow. I was hoping I’d have the legs to follow him.

“He often beat me before but today I got him, thanks to my teammates. To win a Tour de France stage was the biggest goal of my season. but it’s not the end of the race yet. As a team, we’ll try to go for more.”

Matthews’ win was Orica’s second Tour de France stage win by an individual, and first since Simon Gerrans in 2013.

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