Chris Wilson August 19, 2012
CANBERRA cyclist Michael Matthews says he's not just ready to race for Australia at next year's Tour de France, but he's already begun talking up a future rivalry with Slovak superstar and this year's sprint king Peter Sagan.
Matthews said the lure of riding for Australia's first professional cycling team was too good to refuse, defecting from his Dutch team Rabobank during the week to sign a two-year deal with Greenedge from 2013.
While the 22-year-old is yet to sit down with the team and discuss next year's goals, the 2010 under 23 world champion is setting the bar high.
''Angry'' that he had to watch this year's Tour de France on television, Matthews has targeted a Tour debut and aims to take the challenge immediately to Sagan, the 2012 green jersey winner.
Sagan, also 22, was dubbed the Tourminator after taking out three stages in his debut Tour de France.
''I'm really close to him in most of the races so seeing him win three stages in the Tour and me sitting at home watching it on TV was pretty hard,'' Matthews said.
''I think maybe next year I might be ready to give [the Tour] a go, I think this year it was nice to watch it on the TV and make myself more angry and excited to go there for next year.
''[Sagan's] a really talented rider but I think I'm around the same sort of rider as him, we can both sprint pretty well and we can both climb pretty well. I think it's going to be a nice battle between us in the future.''
Matthews recently won a stage and finished with the sprinter's jersey following the Tour of Utah, which he had entered with only training ambition. He will race in Hamburg, Germany today.
Matthews had been offered a three-year contract extension with Rabobank, but said he was fulfilling a dream to ride for an Australian team.
''Rabobank weren't too happy because I was their young rising star, they wanted to keep me for the next three years but they can understand it's an Australian professional team and it's the first one, so they understand I want to be a part of that,'' Matthews said.
''It was always a dream of mine to go from the under-23 ranks straight into an Australian pro team but [the team] didn't come quite as fast as I wanted to. It was nice to get two years in the European system, get the experience from that.
''I think it's every Australian's dream to ride for an Australian pro team, this is the first one ever so it's a really big achievement for Australian cycling and a really big thing for us to ride with almost the green and gold stripes on our back every race.''