Under-23 road race world champion Michael Matthews (Rabobank) started his professional career with a standout performance at the Jayco Bay Criterium Series. The 20-year-old enjoyed a stage win and the yellow jersey and held his own over the last four days against some top sprinters in Matthew Goss, Robbie McEwen and Allan Davis.
“This week has given me a lot of confidence,” Matthews told Cyclingnews at the conclusion of the series. “Matt Goss won a stage in the Giro last year and being up against him and getting close to him in my first year as a professional is an awesome feeling - beating him yesterday was really good,” he added.
Matthews proved to handle leadership well in front of a huge crowd and relished the opportunity and was proud of what he achieved. “It was awesome having the yellow jersey in my first race in my Rabobank kit. Having Graeme Brown behind me was awesome and I can’t wait to come back next year.”
With his strong performance, a leadership role at the Tour Down Under for Rabobank certainly isn’t out of the equation, although with Graeme Brown also riding well, it gives the team options for the January 18-23 race.
“Hopefully they will give me a leadership role at the Tour Down Under. I’ll have a talk to them over the next few days and see what they want to do. First I’ll go to the Nationals for the road race and maybe the time trial and I’m hoping I will get a good result there and see what happens.”
Matthews is pleased with his early season schedule and his neo-pro year has the Rabobank rider settling into pro life steadily. “I will start off with the Tour Down Under. I will then head over on the second of February to my home in Belgium... from there I will go to the Mallorca challenge and see how I go there. I’ll do a couple more races after that.
“They don’t want to send me to too many races straight up but we’ll see how my form is and we’ll judge it from there.”