Matthews traded the chilly European winter preparation for the early Classics for Australian WorldTour race which in flip has modified its conventional race-maker, Willunga Hill, for a much less extreme ascent.
It isn’t that there aren’t climbs however, beneath the stewardship of race director Stuart O’Grady, the key climb on the ultimate day of the Tour Down Underneath is lower than half the size of Willunga Hill – 1.3km as a substitute of 3km – which is more likely to restrict the benefit that the pure climbers can stretch out.
“I feel it (the course) fits me a bit bit higher than the hilltop end in Willunga, so I feel that is why we put quite a bit to convey a very sturdy group right here to the Tour Down Underneath this yr,” mentioned Matthews, after he took to the rostrum of a sizzling elite males’s highway race on the AusCycling Nationwide Championships simply days after arriving from Europe.
“We now have additionally bought Simon Yates who’s in nice form too. So we have numerous choices, which is nice. It isn’t simply the one. So yeah, we’ll play all of the playing cards.”
The Jayco AlUla group additionally consists of the ability of Luke Durbridge, the climbing prowess of Lucas Hamilton and Chris Harper, together with the sturdy assist riders of Michael Hepburn and Campbell Stewart.
Matthews arrived in Australia in Ballarat, and was quickly racing within the sweltering temperatures of Buninyong within the 185.6km males’s elite highway race on the Australian Nationwide Championships. It had been 9 years since he took half within the battle for the inexperienced and gold jersey. He was carefully watched as all of the riders within the lead breakaway seemed to him to chase down the strikes within the finale as nobody wished to face him in a dash. Regardless of the efforts he was pressured to make and the dearth of time to acclimatise to the warmth, he managed to seek out his approach onto the rostrum in third, behind Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) and Simon Clarke (Israel Premier-Tech).
“With the warmth on the market at the moment, I used to be truly fairly pleasantly stunned of how I may carry out … coming straight from Europe, the place we’re coaching in ten levels on daily basis, to racing in 30 one thing at the moment, I am tremendous completely satisfied. So now, I simply sit up for TDU.”
Matthews has raced the Tour Down Underneath 4 instances, successful a stage and coming fourth on GC in 2011, however he hasn’t been again to since 2014.
“It is an honour to return again after numerous years away and I imply, doing my factor abroad after which coming again and nonetheless getting some large assist on the facet of the roads from Aussie followers,” mentioned the four-time Tour de France stage winner.
It could have been a race that Matthews – who returned to that Australian group after 4 years at Sunweb in 2021 – hasn’t achieved for a while however it’s a race that has at all times featured closely in his group’s priorities, the one house tour for the Australian-based squad and an opportunity to fly the flag in entrance of the sponsors and home-nation followers. Nevertheless, there have been two years the place all of the worldwide racing in Australia was cancelled and the group’s early season house floor benefit, and potential factors haul that got here with it, has been off the agenda because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This yr we wish to change issues up a bit bit after numerous years of COVID and never with the ability to journey and the occasions not being on, however now it is on full gasoline,” mentioned Matthews.” So we’re again right here with all weapons blazing.”