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In a Bling of an eye


Michael Matthews is a phenomenal athlete who, however, probably found himself in the wrong period of cycling history, as he reached the peak of his maturity just as the new golden generation was about to explode and, despite all the hard work he has put in to stay at the top of the game, in recent years disappointments have drastically outnumbered victories.

Let’s make it clear, this is the fate of 99% of riders, but to include Matthews with that 99% would be nothing short of simplistic. He has won 40 races in his career and, between 2014 and 2018, he was undoubtedly one of the sparkling diamonds of the bunch, winning often and on every soil, especially in the Grand Tours. When he was a young up-and-coming athlete riding around Australian velodromes, they started calling him Bling because he gave the impression of being someone who lived a lavish life, wearing diamond earrings, gold bracelets and fancy dress style. “However, I always saw that nickname not only about the way I dressed up, but also about the way I am, always happy with who I am and what I have”.

Despite his cheerful personality, it must not have been easy for good old Matthews to keep a smile on his face this spring. He had his sights set on Milano-Sanremo, the Classic that perhaps best suits him, but instead he caught covid two days before the race, bidding farewell to any hopes of triumph in Via Roma. At that point, he tried to recover for the Tour of Flanders, but facing walls and cobblestones with a barely eradicated virus is obviously not pleasant. He withdrew and gave up every other race until the Giro d’Italia.

Earlier in his career, Bling had already offered a few gems at the Giro, wearing the Maglia Rosa for six days and winning in it in Montecassino back in 2014, and then winning in Sestri Levante and taking the Rosa for two more days the following year. After that, he only came back in 2020, but abandoned soon after catching covid (again). In the last two and a half years he had only won two races, not because he was slow, but because someone else was faster, as simple as that.

Today, in Melfi, he did everything in his power to get rid of as much competition as he could before the final few km. On the climb towards the Laghi di Monticchio, he unleashed Filippo Zana, who imposed a pace that made all the sprinters jump one after the other. All the sprinters but two, Mads Pedersen and Kaden Groves, who managed to hold on. Thus, it had to be a tight sprint in the end and tight sprint it was, with Matthews starting ahead of everyone and holding his own. This time he was the fastest of all. 

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