Matthews primed to change colours for World Champs

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - SAM ED­MUND

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.”

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