Having finished third in 2015, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) hopes to go two better at Milan-San Remo on Saturday, aiming to emulate countrymen Matthew Goss and Simon Gerrans by winning La Primavera.
The Australian started his season with a bang, claiming the Paris-Nice prologue on his first day of racing this year and holding the yellow jersey until stage six.
The tactic of only racing eight days before the first Monument of the season worked well for Matthews last season, as he reached the podium, but the prestige of winning the race is what's driving him on.
"There are only two Australians who managed to win his to La Primavera, Matthew Goss (2011) and Simon Gerrans (2012). When I saw them win, it inspired me to ever achieve the same," he said, quoted on Het Nieuwsblad. "It's a classic that suits me and that I enjoy - a classic that is greater for me than the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix."
Michael Matthews wins stage two of Paris-Nice in controversial circumstances
Aged 25, Matthews has three Milan-San Remo finishes under his belt. His first appearance in 2011 saw him finish 107th, in his second in 2014 he was 78th and last year he improved all the way to third.
With reigning champion John Degenkolb absent with injury, Alexander Kristoff goes into the race as the favourite. Matthews will be confident of trumping his Norwegian rival on the Via Roma this year.
"I had the legs to win, but [the others] surprised me in the sprint. I became trapped and my chance of victory was over. I'm a year older, have already driven the final and I will start now with more confidence.
"It's a long race, but a race that I know very well because I often train in the area. Moreover, the climbs are not too difficult for me, I can survive, then I can count on my sprint."
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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