Matthews, the team leader for the Australian squad, fought hard to secure the bronze at the end of a long, chaotic day of racing in the coastal region of New South Wales. He made all the right moves and never gave up when the field split into small groups in the latter half of the hilly 266km race. With the help of his teammates, the 32-year-old put himself in position to sprint for a medal on his Propel Advanced SL Disc bike with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem.
“Standing on the podium in front of my home crowd here in Australia, it doesn’t get much bigger than that,” said Matthews, who wore a Giant Pursuit helmet and Surge Pro shoes to land the bronze medal. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the rainbow stripes around my chest, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. My team were amazing today, I rode my race and we came away third.”
Matthews, who races for the Australia-based Team BikeExchange-Jayco, Giant's partner WorldTour squad, had the weight of the home nation on his shoulders.
“I must admit after the first few laps I went to the front of the bunch and soaked up the crowd, but after that it was back into race mode again," he said. "In the last two laps the crowd was so loud, we were going so fast up the climbs, and I really couldn’t feel my legs too much because of how loud the crowd was. It was super special out there, I had tears in my eyes.”
Eventual winter Remco Evenepoel was off the front in a solo attack in the final 25km, but behind the Belgian was a fierce battle for the podium. With no race radios, and the peloton split to pieces near the end of the long, grueling race that lasted well over 6 hours, it was difficult to read the situation. Riding his Propel Advanced SL Disc, the same bike he rode to a solo stage win at the Tour de France in July, Matthews just kept surging ahead, catching groups in the approach to the final sprint.
“We just kept catching bunches,” Matthews explained. “Even in the last 500 meters of the race. I was thinking we weren’t even sprinting for top ten, and then I saw the French team lining up for [Christophe] Laporte and I just jumped on the back of that and did my thing in the sprint. Even after that, I didn’t know exactly where I finished. I found out a couple minutes later that I was third.”
It was the second bronze medal of this year’s Road World Championships for Matthews. His first came in the Mixed Relay Team Time Trial. Riding his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem, he was part of the six-rider squad that also included Team BikeExchange-Jayco teammate Luke Durbridge, along with Alexandra Manly and Georgia Baker of the women’s Team BikeExchange-Jayco squad. Matteo Sobrero, part of the Italian squad that won silver in the Mixed Relay TTT, added to the medal count for Team BikeExchange-Jayco,
Matthews now has three Road Worlds medals to his name at the elite level, having also won silver in the men’s road race at the 2015 World Championships in the U.S. But he said this road win in Wollongong is his favorite.
“On home soil, it’s definitely the most special,” Matthews said. “I think the level of cycling at the moment is so high. It is incredible to be up here with the the bronze medal.”