To win one stage of a Grand Tour requires talent and class; to do it repeatedly over a span of 10 years indicates enduring class, a trait that only the very best possess.
On a wet and rather miserable day at the Giro d’Italia, Michael Matthews scored his 10th Grand Tour victory of his career - a year after his last, at the Tour de France, and a completely different peloton ago since his first at the 2013 Vuelta a España.
For so long Matthews has carried the nickname ‘Bling’, and while he does have the flashy car (he even occasionally minds Tadej Pogačar’s supercar), the jewellery (ear studs and necklaces) and no doubt the money thanks to a career at the top, that’s about as far as Matthews goes in fitting the stereotype of a pretentious, rude prima donna. In reality, he’s anything but, and in an illuminating interview a number of years ago, he noted how, to him, the moniker said “more about my attitude, about how happy I am.”
Winning in Melfi on Monday, his first win at the Giro in eight years, raised an enormous smile on his face. In the months preceding the Giro, the Australian had been training intensely as he seeks to win the points classification; just a few weeks ago he was even training alone in the Italian mountains, with just his coach Brian Stephens for company. After the win, Stephens sent a WhatsApp to Rouleur: “We worked hard for that.”