March 06, 2016

CONFLANS-SAINTE-HONORINE, France (AP) Australian sprinter Michael Matthews won the Paris-Nice prologue on Sunday to grab the Race to the Sun's yellow jersey.

Matthews, a silver medalist at the road world championships last year, upset the time trial specialists to win the six-kilometer 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 clocking 7:49.

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 this week.''

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-kilometer ride from Conde-sur-Vesgre to Vendome.

You May Like