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Michael Matthews takes Maglia Rosa for Australia

Press conference comments

Belfast (Northern Ireland), 10 May 2014 – Stage two of the Giro d'Italia, Belfast – Belfast (219 km), saw the German sprinter Marcel Kittel take his first ever stage win in the Corsa Rosa, beating Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo. His victory gives Kittel the lead in the points classification, and the first red Maglia Rossa of the race.

Thanks to the sum of his placings, Australia’s Michael Matthews takes over the pink Maglia Rosa of the overall race leader, worn during the stage by his team-mate Svein Tuft. Matthews also takes over the white Maglia Bianca of the best young rider.

Please find below comments made by both riders at the post-stage press conference.

A jersey foretold: “We came here with a team for the TTT, a discipline we are very good at. The plan was always to give Svein the pink jersey for all the hard work he does, and then for me to try to get the pink jersey and keep it as long as possible. You never know - things can easily go wrong - but we performed well in the team time trial yesterday and put a big gap into the teams behind us, and we’ll definitely do everything we can to defend it. I think we can keep the Maglia Rosa for a week.” The Maglia Rosa: “I won the Under-23 World Champion’s jersey in Australia in front of my own crowd, and to wear this pink jersey now, in my first Giro d’Italia, is pretty incredible. It’s a dream come true.”

The Coming Stages: “[Marcel Kittel] is definitely the fastest guy in the bunch. Whether it’s warm or cold, he’ll be there in the sprints. I’ll try to be around him, try and run 2nd or 3rd to him each time, and conserve energy for stages 5 and 6, which are the ones that best suit me. They are my real goals for the Giro this year.”

Talented Rivals: “We saw today that Bouhanni and Viviani are strong, and will challenge me in the coming stages. If you start getting arrogant and thinking that they are easy to beat, you have a problem, because it’s not like that: it’s hard work and you have to keep focused.”

Completing the Hat-Trick: “I’ve now won stages in all three Grand Tours, and I’m really proud of it. It has been a nice goal, and it’s great to achieve it. I’m especially proud to have team-mates around me who have accompanied me in winning stages in all three Grand Tours. That makes it even better.”

Thoughts on Northern Ireland: “The first thing that comes to mind is rain. The second is the amazing atmosphere. Even with all the rain, there were people in shorts and t-shirts, cheering for us at the roadside. I don’t know how they do it, but it was wonderful. I felt really happy, even on the wet roads.”

On turning 26 tomorrow: “Another win would be great, but I don’t know if I’ll get any presents! I’ll take the same approach as I did today, I’ll concentrate on the sprint, and we will see what happens.”

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