After a masterful performance by his teammates, who helped put the Australian in position for the tricky approach to the finish, Matthews did his part, powering up the final climb on his Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc bike with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem.
To grab the top spot on the podium, the 32-year-old had to beat Danish rider Mads Pedersen, the 2019 road world champion, and fellow Australian Kaden Groves, a powerful sprinter with several wins already this year.
It was an emotional victory for Matthews, who has been through an up-and-down season so far in 2023. In March, just as he was preparing Milan-San Remo and the spring classics season, he was sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test.
“Honestly, I’m just speechless,” said Matthews. “What I’ve been through these last two months, to come back with a victory for the team, it’s amazing.”
The 213km Stage 3 route took riders south from Vasto to Melfi. The terrain was mostly flat until the final 40km, which included two categorized climbs and a hilly run-in to the finish. Knowing it would come down to a battle in those final kilometers, Team Jayco AlUla was content to let an early two-man break go up the road before reeling them in later.
“Today was super teamwork from all the boys, they were incredible,” said the team’s sport director David McPartland. “We took control from the start of the day on one of the longest stages of the Giro. We knew all the details of that final climb, we had identified it as an ideal finish for Michael. We timed and used all of our resources perfectly. It doesn’t happen always, and we need to enjoy the victory the way it was done today.”
Matthews also credited the team for playing it perfectly.
“My teammates were fully committed for me to win the stage,” he said. “It’s been a rollercoaster for me, so I just came to this Giro to have fun, enjoy riding my bike, and enjoy being with my teammates. And today it was such a team effort for that win, that was for the boys.”