WorldTeam One year ago, Matthew Holmes' fairy tale

"It was just a really good day when I was in the right place at the right time."
General 26 January 2021

Exactly one year ago Lotto Soudal rider Matthew Holmes took his maiden professional victory in what was his first ever WorldTour race. On 26 January 2020, the now 27-year-old Brit conquered Willunga Hill and won the queen stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. A fairy tale beginning to his stay at Lotto Soudal, although Holmes wasn’t all too sure of being suited to racing at the highest level a few days into the Australian stage race. Matthew takes you back to that wonderful day and looks ahead to the upcoming season.

Matthew Holmes: “Winning the queen stage of the Tour Down Under was something really special. During the first days of racing, I was really struggling and I wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I even thought of giving up on it. The day before the final stage, I went out to eat a little something together with my parents, when I told them that I doubted if I was good enough for WorldTour level. It really was a coincidence that they were both there, as they had planned the trip to Australia even before I signed with Lotto Soudal.”

“The final stage to Willunga Hill wasn’t something for Caleb Ewan, so we tried to go on the offensive. I felt quite good and I got in a big breakaway quite easily. We had to climb Willunga Hill twice and during the first ascent, I still thought I was going to get dropped. During the second time up the climb, I suddenly realised I was the strongest of the breakaway. At that moment, I knew that if we could stay away, I would have a chance of winning the stage. I knew Richie Porte would be catching us quickly and luckily, I got over the most difficult part of the climb before he caught me. When I was told Richie was coming, I was quite sure I was going to win as I could get on his wheel and I knew he didn’t have anything left for the sprint as he closed down a big gap before. It was just a really good day when I was in the right place at the right time. And to have my parents at the finish line, was another big highlight of course”, says Matthew Holmes.

(Read on below the photo.)

It was a perfect start to his first season at the Lotto Soudal WorldTeam, but Holmes kept both feet solid on the ground and continued to work hard for the races to come.

“Apart from boosting my confidence, winning the queen stage at the Tour Down Under didn’t change much. I obviously made a name for myself straight away, but I kept on training just as hard and I tried my best in every single race. The 2020 season has been quite perfect for me. Although the racing calendar was heavily reduced, it was still more than I had ever done before when I raced in Britain. In a way, that worked out really well and it was a good introduction to the harder races. I only regret not having won the Giro stage (Holmes finished 3rd in the eighth stage of the 2020 Giro d’Italia) but still I won a race, so I have to be satisfied with that. I got my first taste of riding a Grand Tour and I really look forward to going for that stage win this season.”

Unfortunately, Holmes could not travel to Spain to join his Lotto Soudal teammates at the January training camp but this hasn’t prevented him from training hard and staying motivated for the upcoming season.

“At the moment, Britain is again in full lockdown and sadly, the Spanish government decided that British people are not allowed to enter Spain. Luckily, I am able to train outside, but the weather conditions are quite harsh with a lot of snow and ice. I am also training hard, but it is obviously not the same compared to being able to train under the Spanish sun. The only positive thing is that there’s some time to work on the house we bought last year”, concludes Matthew Holmes with a wink.

Relive Matthew Holmes' stage victory atop Willunga Hill through the video below.

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