Matthews primed to change colours for World Champs
MICHAEL Matthews is ready to go from green to rainbow, with the Australian declaring himself in peak condition for next week’s World Championships.
Matthews, who claimed a pair of stage wins and the green jersey at July’s Tour de France, has been entrusted with sole leadership of Australia’s nine-man team in Bergen, Norway on September 24. The best riders in the world will battle it out over a gruelling 276.5km course. The winner has the honour of forever wearing the rainbow bands on his jersey.
Matthews has also taken out the Vuelta al País Vasco and Tour de Suisse, and was hopeful the best season of his career wasn’t done yet.
“Everything from after the Tour until now has just been a stepping stone to be at my best at the Worlds,” Matthews said.
“That’s been the goal since the Tour de France. I had a nice little rest after that, and these are the stepping stones I need to be doing to be at my best for the Worlds. Everything is going into that at the moment.
“But I think it’s going in the right direction and I should be at my best for the Worlds, physically and mentally.”
National coach Brad McGee said last month: “We believe Michael can win and we’re building a team to try and make that happen.”
Matthews last week franked his form with two top-10 finishes in preparation races in Canada — the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (third) and Montreal (eighth).
Matthews, Slovakia’s twotime defending champion Peter Sagan and Belgian Greg Van Avermaet, are all expected to be among those fighting for the World Championship title.
While Matthews zeroes in on Norway, appeals by Chloe Hosking and Rachel Neylan have caused Cycling Australia to reverse their non-selection in the women’s team.
The pair were controversially left out of an original five-woman squad despite Australia qualifying for seven spots as the third-ranked cycling nation.
Hosking, Australia’s topranked female rider, on Friday tweeted: “And then there were 7. #Bergen2017 baby!”
Cycling Australia high performance director Simon Jones said in a statement that “with the Worlds starting this week, and with the athletes in mind, I want us to move forward quickly and focus on the bike racing.”