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On the same day that it was announced that Sunweb would release Michael Matthews from his contract one year earlier than expected, Mitchelton-Scott revealed that Matthews will be “coming home” to the team next season.
Matthews has been with the Sunweb organization since coming aboard from Orica-GreenEdge (now Mitchelton-Scott) at the start of 2017. The 29-year-old Australian has collected some strong results in his time with the team, including two stage wins and the green jersey at the 2017 Tour de France and several WorldTour one-day victories.
Despite his resume, Matthews was not selected for Sunweb’s Tour roster, a decision that apparently came as something of a surprise to Matthews, who has shown strong form in the resumed racing season with a podium performance at Milan-San Remo and a WorldTour win just five days ago at the Bretagne Classic.
“The team is very ambitious and increasingly want to work with a broader collective of riders deeper in the finales of classics and sprint races,” Matthews said in a press release from Sunweb. “Those tactics do not ideally fit with my ambitions and specific strengths to sprint for the wins. For that reason, I decided to ask permission to investigate opportunities to look for a different team and I appreciate that Team Sunweb was open for this.”
Matthews is not the first rider to leave Sunweb before his contract is up. Over the past few seasons, big names like Marcel Kittel, Warren Barguil and Tom Dumoulin also left the squad early.
Soon after Sunweb’s announcement, Mitchelton-Scott said that Matthews would be rejoining the squad on a two year contract, to the end of the 2022 season. It sees Matthews return to a team at which he spent four seasons, claiming 18 of his 35 professional victories.
“I saw a moment where it just felt right. As a sprinter and as a rider you feel moments like this and sometimes you just have to go with instinct,” Matthews said. “The opportunity was there to come back and you have to take them when they are there. At this moment in my career it just felt right, and the team has welcomed me back with open arms which is really special.”
Matthews will be an option for the team at monuments and one day classics – he is a two-time podium finisher at Milan-San Remo – and bolster Mitchelton-Scott’s grand tour stage hunting hopes.
Team owner, Gerry Ryan, spoke of his happiness welcoming Matthews back, having been involved with his career since Matthews was racing as an U19. “I have followed Michael’s journey from an aspiring junior to the world-class rider he is today and to witness the transition, both on and off the bike, has been incredibly satisfying for me,” Ryan said.
“Michael is a one-of-a-kind rider and has given this organisation some of our most spectacular victories on the world’s biggest stage, including the Tour de France. We couldn’t be happier to have him back home, this is where he belongs.”