Sport Cycling Aussie Matthews takes Tour of Spain lead

Aussie Matthews takes Tour of Spain lead

Michael Matthews - Getty
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Australian Michael Matthews has claimed victory in the third stage of the Tour of Spain and also taken over the overall race lead.

The 23-year-old prevailed in a sprint finish ahead of Irishman Dan Martin and Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez.

The Orica GreenEdge rider, who won two stages in the Vuelta last year, crossed the line in a time of 5hr 12min 14sec to take the 197.8km stage from Cadiz to Arcos de la Frontera.

The 10 bonus seconds on offer to winners of a stage allowed Matthews to move ahead of race favourite Colombian Nairo Quintana into the overall lead by four seconds.

“I can’t ask any more of the team. The victory depended on them because they gave everything for it,” said Matthews.

“I didn’t think I could do it but the team gave 100 per cent for me.”

Matthews was forced to pull out of this year’s Tour de France due to a hand injury suffered in training just a week before it got underway.

And he admitted wearing the leader’s red jersey was a huge bonus given he hadn’t planned on even riding in Spain this year.

“I didn’t even expect to participate this year in the Tour of Spain, only in the Tour of France because I wasn’t in form,” he said.

“But sometimes when you work hard you can get back to your best level and if you believe in yourself you come back even stronger.

“To wear the red jersey is a dream come true. I adore the Tour of Spain.”

Overnight leader Alejandro Valverde came home seven seconds down on the stage leaders to slip to third place overall.

However, two-time winner Alberto Contador and Chris Froome showed no ill effects on their return from the injuries that forced them to retire from the Tour de France as they finished among the leading pack to remain in contention.

Saxo-Tinkoff’s Contador trails Quintana by 19 seconds with Sky’s Froome a further eight seconds back.