Conflans-Sainte-Honorine - Australian sprinter Michael Matthews
won the Paris-Nice prologue on Sunday to grab the Race to the Sun's yellow
Matthews, a silver medallist at the road world championships last
year, upset the time trial specialists to win the six-kilometre race against
the clock outside Paris in 7 minutes, 39 seconds.
"I was thinking a top five was possible on a course like
this," Matthews said. "It was hilly, with lots of technical corners,
which suits me. I had high hopes but I didn't think I could win this."
Making his season debut, Matthews was one second faster than Tom
Dumoulin of the Netherlands while New Zealand's Patrick Bevin ended third,
another second back.
Paris-Nice defending champion Richie Porte finished 11th after
Matthews had already worn the Paris-Nice's leader jersey after
winning a stage last year.
"The next few stages are flat sprints so I should be able to
keep the jersey," Matthews said. "My climbing form is quite good so
it will be nice to see how long I can keep it. It's an amazing jersey and an
amazing race. This is Paris-Nice and I know most of the climbs on the course
Among the overall contenders, Geraint Thomas posted the fastest
time, seven seconds behind Matthews, with former Tour de France winner Alberto
Contador lagging 16 seconds behind.
Monday's first stage of the eight-day race takes the peloton on a
198-kilometre ride from Conde-sur-Vesgre to Vendome.