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Matthews puts cycling setback behind him

  • Matthews puts cycling setback behind him

    Australia's Michael Matthews (C) has won the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja race for a second time.

Australian sprint ace Michael Matthews is targeting victory in cycling's revered one-day classics after winning the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja for a second time.

Matthews extended the form that won him two stages and the green jersey in the Paris-Nice race last month as he claimed victory in the 56th edition of Spain's La Rioja by half a wheel from Russia's Sergey Shilov on Sunday.

He claimed the win despite bumping off a barrier in the sprint finish.

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Having previously won the race in 2014, Matthews' latest triumph made it three La Rioja tiles in succession for his Orica-GreeenEDGE team.

"The team were amazing throughout the race today," said Matthews.

"They did a perfect job controlling things and I'm happy I was able to finish it off.

"I started my sprint from around 200 metres. It was difficult because I got pushed into the barriers and had to go around, luckily I had enough speed to hold on."

Rather than going straight into the Pais Vasco, where he took a stage win and led overall for two days last year, Matthews told he would next tackle the tough, hilly "Monuments" - the series of one-day classics.

First up is the Brabantjse Pijl in Belgium on April 13, followed by the Amstel Gold in the Netherlands on April 17, and Fleche Wallone in Belgium on April 20.

Matthews placed second in the Brabantjse Pijl last year and third in the Amstel Gold.

His victory on Sunday came off the back of a strong team effort as Orica-GreenEDGE reeled in the breakaway in the final ten kilometres of the race.

"We were the only team on the front from start to finish," Matthews said.

"The boys were really strong and in the end the sprint was very close, I didn't know if I had won when we crossed the line.

"After the crash in San-Remo it"s really good to come here and win, to move on."

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