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Orica gives Matthews crack at Giro glory

It's a new year, with a new team, wearing a new jersey - the jersey of his national professional cycling team, Orica Greenedge.

If that's not exciting enough for Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews then he's been given the carrot of four stages near the end of the 2013 Giro d'Italia.

Greenedge team management considered there were stages between 16-19 of the Giro that would suit the 22-year-old and he's been given the green light to look for wins if his body is willing.

They stages include a medium-mountain stage, a flat stage, an individual time trial and a mountain stage, with the former likely to suit Matthews, who said the Giro - which begins in Naples on May 5 - was already in the back of his mind.

''The team's giving me an opportunity to have a crack in those few stages,'' Matthews told The Canberra Times.

''Before that it's just a matter of survive and get to those stages with enough energy that I can do my work for the team. It's motivating to get to them and also to finish the Giro, because I think it's going to be a really hard one.''


Matthews wants to make an instant impact, similar to that Peter Sagan made in last year's Tour de France.

Sagan, who is eight months older than Matthews, not only won three stages, but the green jersey as well, in his first Tour.

It was an inspirational effort that Matthews wants to emulate when his time comes.

''It's definitely an inspiration for the young guys coming through knowing that at our age we can make a big difference in those big races,'' he said.

''It definitely makes my training a lot better and a lot harder, and pushing myself a lot further now that I can aim for those sort of goals.''

Matthews attended a Greenedge camp in Queensland and Melbourne where he was given his schedule for 2013 up until May's Giro. This was more of a team-bonding exercise rather than a full-on training camp. Matthews played paintball, golf and surfed, with a view to getting to know his new teammates, after joining Greenedge from the now defunct Rabobank.

He singled out sprint coach Robbie McEwen as one to be careful of: ''[The paintball] got a bit aggressive towards the end, everyone wanted to kill each other, it was all fun,'' he said with a laugh.

Matthews has been training in Canberra with Adam Phelan under the direction of ACT Academy of Sport cycling coach Glenn Doney in preparation for the upcoming national road cycling championships in Ballarat.

Matthews said his role would be to work for Simon Gerrans rather than go for the win himself.

It was a similar story in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide later that month, with Gerrans the team's general classification rider and Matthew Goss the sprinter.

''I think I'll just be one of the main helpers for both of those categories,'' he said. ''It'll be fun, I'm looking forward to helping them out and if I get a small opportunity of doing a little bit better on one of the stages then maybe I can have a go.''

In 2011 he was runner-up to Francisco Ventoso on the famous Willunga Hill stage by the width of a tyre - a narrow loss Matthews is still ruing.