• Michael Matthews's next target is a victory in the Ardennes (AAP)Source: AAP
Australia's Michael Matthews showed he remains on target for strong performances in the upcoming Ardennes races with a win in Spain.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
5 Apr 2016 - 7:26 AM 

Matthews has put his devastating Milan-San Remo setback behind him and is now focussed on the Ardennes Classics.

Matthews showed last month's crash and frustration in Italy were history when he won the Vuelta a la Rioja one-day race in Spain for the second time in three years.

It is also the third win in a row at the race for Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE, with Caleb Ewan taking out last year's title.

Orica-GreenEDGE rode superbly on Sunday night (AEST) after a disappointing race the day before at GP Miguel Indurain, where Matthews failed to finish.

Orica-GreenEdge three times the La Rioja victors with Matthews win
Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took victory by just a wheel length over Sergey Shilov (Russia) in the final sprint.

The win also sets up Matthews nicely for the Ardennes, where the Amstel Gold will be his main objective.

The next step in the 25-year-old's career is a big one-day win.

He has stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana and won silver last year in the elite road race at the world championships.

Matthews was hoping to claim one of cycling's five famed monuments last month, but he suffered deep cuts to his right arm in the Milan-San Remo crash and finished 59th.

Adding to the frustration, he had started his season the week before with two stage wins and six days in the leader's jersey at Paris-Nice.

Matthews told Cyclingnews he bypassed this week's Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage race in Spain, where he won a stage last year, to focus all his energies on an Ardennes campaign.

After fine-tuning his form at Brabantse Pijl on April 13, he will contest two of the three Ardennes Classics - Amstel Gold on April 17 and La Fleche Wallone on April 20.

Matthews was runner-up at Brabantse Pijl last year and took third at Amstel Gold.

The most likely scenario for Orica-GreenEDGE is that Simon Gerrans will lead their team for the third and biggest Ardennes Classic, the April 24 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Two years ago, Gerrans became the first Australian to win the monument known as La Doyenne.

SBS will broadcast the Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege LIVE. Check our events page for more details.