Michael Matthews prompted a few raised eyebrows when he announced, upon claiming the maglia rosa in Belfast on stage two, he had targeted stages five and six of the Giro.
Admitting Marcel Kittel was unstoppable on the flat stages, Matthews had looked at the climbs of Viggiano and Montecassino as being more to his strengths instead – despite his reputation as a sprinter who can climb a little, rather than a fully-blown puncheur.
But the Australian, 23, allayed any doubts with a superb performance. Having been kept out of trouble thanks to a strong ride from his team-mates – even though the effort proved costly for Ivan Santaromita’s hopes of an overall top-ten finish – Matthews was instrumental in keeping the leading group together in the final kilometre, checking Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) when the Spaniard attacked.
While Matthews couldn’t seal the stage win, another day in the maglia rosa is just reward for a fine effort.