Matthews capped off a masterful performance by his Team Jayco AlUla squad, which helped put the Australian in position for a tricky approach to the finish. From there, the 32-year-old launched his finishing kick and held off Pedersen, the 2019 road world champion, and Groves, a powerful sprinter with several wins to his name this year.
It was an emotional victory for Matthews, who faced plenty of challenges coming into the first grand tour of the year. In March, just as he was preparing for Milan-San Remo and the spring classics season, Matthews was sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test.
“Honestly, I’m just speechless,” said Matthews, who scored the win on his Propel Advanced SL Disc team bike and CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem. “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.
Once they hit the hills, with the pressure on, the team made all the right moves.
“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, who wore his Giant Surge Pro shoes and Pursuit helmet, 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.”