As a Jayco Skins Cyling Team rider, Michael ‘Bling’ Matthews represented Australia in the 2010 UCI World Championships in Geelong and became the new U23 Road Racing World Champion. Matthews has come out and shown he is ready to compete at the top level of cycling. Matthews is only the fifth Australian to win a world road title.
What’s next for Bling, how does he feel about being Australia’s next road racing star? RC caught up with Matthews for BNA (Bicycles Network Australia).
BNA: Congratulations on your U23 World Racing Championship, what does it mean to you to be the U23 World Champion?
Matthews: It means so much for me just looking back over the last 2 years of hard training. It’s a lot of work leading into the one road race but I trained really hard and had an awesome team working for me and the coaches and staff did a fabulous job and I couldn’t have done it with out all of them.
BNA: With a strong international field, what do you think of your chances of taking the race out?
Matthews: Well on the start line I was thinking all the guys here have an equal chance of winning this race because it was such a strong field but I just had to believe in myself and the training and prep I had done for the race, and in my team mates. On the 1st of October 2010 it all came together and I became under 23 world champion
BNA: How tough was the course and to stay fresh for the sprint?
Matthews: The course was really tough but I just had faith in my team to get me there as fresh as possible and then I had to make sure I could finish it for them in the end.
Matthews (left) head down on an ascent during the U23 World Championship race in Melbourne / Geelong
BNA: How did the race unfold for you? Take us through the last 750 meters.
Matthews: I just made sure I stayed calm in the last 750m, to make sure I didn’t waste energy or not jump too early because it was uphill and really hard to judge your sprint so I just waited and waited and eventually John Degenkolb (GER) jumped with about 120 to go and I got on to his wheel and then I kicked with about 100 metres to go.
BNA: How easily you won the sprint at the Worlds, your being compared to Mark Cavendish, are you looking to go head to head with him next year?
Matthews: Mark Cavendish is an amazing sprinter and I would love to have the opportunity to come up against him in a sprint but not yet – I want to make sure I’m ready first.
BNA: So what’s next for you in your career? Who are you signed with for 2011?
Matthews: I have signed with Rabobank for the next 2 years so that should be really good for my development of my future in cycling.
BNA: How long have you been competing in the sport of cycling?
Matthews: This is now my fourth year in cycling.
Prior to the World Championships in Melbourne, Matthews still had his U23 victory ahead.
BNA: Cycling has taken you across Europe and Australia, what are your favorite races?
Matthews: I love racing in Italy because it is always different and challenging.
BNA: What races would you like to race in Europe if given the opportunity?
Matthews: I really want to ride all the one day classics.
BNA: How much training do you get -What is your average training week like? Is it all on the bike or do you spend time in the gym? Do you work on sprinting specific training?
Matthews: My average week of training is close to 1000k and I go to the gym twice a week and do core strength work 4 times a week, I have never really done any specific sprint training.
BNA: Speaking of the technical side of sprinting, can you tell us about your bike
Matthews: I ride a Bianchi and it was really good for me in 2010.
BNA: The depth of talent in U23 seems to be growing with a lot of young riders making the transition to the pro ranks, is that due to the increase of National teams supporting riders in their early careers?
Matthews: Yes I think so and just getting more support at a young age really helps and getting the opportunities to race overseas and to use all the recovery centres and the gym and all the testing it is awesome all the things they are doing for young cyclists these days to support us.
BNA: Tell us about your interests and pursuits outside of competitive cycling.
Matthews: I’m a real outdoors person I like to always be doing something outside and if I’m not out side or training I’m playing playstation.
Congratulations again, thank you very much for your time and good luck for 2011.
Photo (Title / Interview) ? Cycling Australia / John Veage
Photo (Racing) ? Neil & Rob for BNA