Matthews, the team leader for the Australian squad, put on a show for the home crowd, which lined the streets in the coastal region of New South Wales. Riding his Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc bike with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem, he fought hard throughout the grueling 266km race, one of the longest one-day races on this year's WorldTour calendar.
The 32-year-old made all the right moves and never gave up when the field split into small groups in the latter half of the hilly race that took well over six hours to complete. With the help of his teammates, Matthews fought hard to put himself in position and sprint for the bronze.
“Standing on the podium in front of my home crowd here in Australia, it doesn’t get much bigger than that,” Matthews said. “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, which is partnered with CADEX, 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. 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 a fierce battle for the podium took shape behind the Belgian. With no race radios and the peloton split to pieces on a hilly finishing circuit in Wollongong, it was difficult to read the situation. Matthews just kept digging, catching groups in the lead up 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. He was part of the six-rider Australia team that also included Team BikeExchange-Jayco teammate Luke Durbridge, along with Alexandra Manly and Georgia Baker of the women’s Team BikeExchange-Jayco squad. All rode CADEX Aero WheelSystems. Adding to the CADEX medal count was Matteo Sorbrero, part of the Italian team that won silver in the Mixed Relay TTT.
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 the 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.”