Michael Matthews is leaving Sunweb before the end of his contract to re-join his old Mitchelton-Scott squad.
The Australian Classics specialist and sprinter requested to leave the team as he felt he didn’t fit in with their new strategy, as the squad tries sign a wider range of riders capable of winning one-day races.
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Sunweb said the German-registered team is “developing for the future” and wants to create more opportunities to win in one-day races and sprints.
Matthews was left out of Sunweb’s Tour de France squad this year despite clearly being in good form, finishing third in Milan-San Remo and winning the Bretagne Classic in the week before the Tour’s Grand Départ in Nice.
The 29-year-old said: “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. 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.”
Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott has now welcomed Matthews back on a two-season deal, having ridden for the team between 2014 and 2016, racking 18 wins in that time.
Team owner Gerry 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.”
Sunweb has been undergoing a major transformation in recent seasons, kickstarted by the departure of their Grand Tour leader Tom Dumoulin at the end of last season.
Next year, Romain Bardet will be coming in to lead the team over three weeks while the team also hopes to develop talents like Nils Eekhoff, Marc Hirschi and Cees Bol.
Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink said: “We are now in a position where the composition of the team has changed, and we want to exploit that broadened collective strength in the classics and the sprints. We respect that Michael has been open about his view on our goals and tactics in relation to his own specific strengths.
“Michael is an incredibly gifted rider; he is ambitious, we’ve really achieved great things together and he has been a good fit to the team. All of this combined made us decide to respond favourably to his request to search for opportunities elsewhere.”