The Australian rider has chosen the opening weekend stages among the five opportunities he will have to fight for victory in a Tour where he will wait to see his attitude in the face of the green jersey competition. However, the winner of the 2017 points jersey, with already three Tour de France stage victories to his credit, will not be lacking in competition. There is not only a stage victory at stake in these opening days, but also the short and long term home of the yellow jersey.“The guys in the GC obviously don’t want to waste time, so they’re going to fight for that as well. It’s not just the hard-hitting sprinters who will be up there, ”Matthews said at a press conference ahead of the Tour. “The yellow jersey is definitely at stake for some riders that are different from what it normally is with a sprint or a TT at the start of the Tour de France. I can’t wait to do my best and see what we can accomplish as a team in these early days.
The opening stage of the Tour de France on June 26 from Brest to Landerneau ends with a 3.1 kilometer climb at 5.6% then during stage 2 it is the Mûr-de-Bretagne Guerlédan, with a two-kilometer climb at 6.9 percent.
“It’s hard to decide which one is best,” Matthews said. “I’m going to give myself 100% on both and we’ll see what we get out of it, hopefully it’s a win. But we just don’t know.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) are two of the riders likely to prevent Matthews from securing his first victory of the season. Both have made it clear that they are well aware of the opportunity presented by the tough finishes. The question is, is Matthews at the same level as Alaphilippe and van der Poel on this ground?
” I hope. I worked to be good at these kinds of stages, ”said Matthews. “I think I just have to do my best and not focus on what they’re doing, but just focus on what I’m doing and try to get the best of myself and use my team to try to support me as best they can before this final of these first two stages.
The two lined up against Matthews in the Tour de Suisse where Matthews’ best result was a fourth place in Stage 3, while Alaphilippe finished third in that same sprint and second in the time trial and van der Poel took the first place in stages 2 and 3.
“Van der Poel has proven he’s in very good shape, in Switzerland he was probably the most dominant rider there so I think it’s fair to say he’s probably the man to beat Matthews said. “In addition, Alaphilippe has shown that he is also in great shape, so they are probably the two favorites for the first two stages. I’m sure they’ll show us what legs they have and put on a good show. I will do my best to try to be in front of them.
If he finishes ahead it would give him a huge advantage in the green jersey competition.
“Those first two stages are worth 50 points for the jersey, which creates a big gap to the pure sprinters if you’re up there,” said Matthews. “I think it’s going to be a great fight, pretty open to a lot of riders this year, but for me personally it’s just about focusing on the stages and seeing what happens towards the end. “
The absence of last year’s winner Sam Bennett, Mark Cavendish was drafted for Deceuninck-QuickStep in his absence.
Matthews, for his part, couldn’t be happier to line up for the Tour de France alongside Cavendish.
“I had dinner with Cav at the Paris airport on the way and… he was full of energy, really happy and really excited to be back on the Tour de France,” said Matthews. “For a guy who has already won 30 stages of the Tour, to be so excited about the Tour de France is something special. I think it’s great for sports. Whether he wins a stage or not, it’s going to be great to watch him fight for the win. “