Michael Matthews Wins Opening Stage Time Trial at Tour de SlovÃ©nieThu 19 Jun 2014
In his first race appearance since the Giro d’Italia, Michael Matthews scored his 16th professional victory on the opening stage of the Tour de Slovénie. The Australian covered the 8.8 kilometre time trial course in Ljubljana in 10’05, six seconds faster than Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) in second place. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) rounded out the stage podium in third at ten seconds. It is the 24th victory for ORICA-GreenEDGE in the 2014 season and the team’s fourth win over three starts at the Slovenian stage race.
“Judging by how I was feeling in the warm-up, I wasn’t too confident in the time trial today,” said Matthews. “In the end, I got there and did my best. Despite the feeling I had in the warm-up, it was enough to win. It’s nice to come off altitude and take a win straight away. It’s a good confidence boost going into the new few stages and the next big goals of the year.”
“The time trial is one of those stages where it’s really hard to control the result,” said Wilson. “We just wanted to go out there and give it our best shot today. Fortunately this year, like last year, we had the strongest guy on the day.”
The time trial course in Slovenia’s capitol city was a flat, fast out-and-back with a small loop near the start/finish. Technical skills offered little advantage nor did start time. Matthews averaged 52.36 kilometres per hour over the straightforward course.
“It was a very basic time trial,” said Wilson. “There were one or two turns in the first half of the course and there were two or three turns in the final bit as we went into town on the way to the finish.”
“It threatened rain all day today, especially for the later starters, but it never eventuated,” Wilson added. “The weather played no role today. Everyone rode in the same conditions.”
Matthews will line up for stage two in the race leader’s jersey. He will be one of two ORICA-GreenEDGE riders to swap out the team-issue Craft kit for a race-specific top. In 28th place in the time trial, Simon Yates earned the best young rider’s jersey following stage one.
Friday’s road stage offers a lumpy course with a category three climb near the stage start and a category one climb near the stage finish. Wilson considers the stage two another opportunity for Matthews.
“It’s a really good course for us,” said Wilson. “There’s quite a hard climb with 30 kilometres to go, which suits Michael really well. We’re definitely be going out there trying to get the stage win with him again.”
“I’ve done lots of climbing training at altitude recently,” Matthews added. “Hopefully that does me a favour tomorrow, and I can go for another really good result like today. We’ll enjoy the win tonight and get back to business tomorrow. We have a great team here to support me in this role.”