Stage eight [Saturday] was the sort of day that we knew it wouldn't be possible to keep the pink jersey but I had a fun day, just enjoying it as best I could. I gave it a go on the last climb to try and stick with it out of respect for the jersey, not just to sit up and pedal in.
So I gave it a go, but I knew in the back of my head it wasn't going to happen. And after the eight days we've been committing ourselves on every single stage, it's been a long Giro for us so far and we're all a little bit tired and I think we're ready for the rest day on Monday.
There's a few more stages that suit us, so we'll be saving energy to go for those stages. The boys have worked so hard that they deserve a rest. We'll just try and lose as much time as possible on the stages that don't suit us and then the stages that suit us, we'll go full gas on them. We're not giving up now, we'll keep on fighting all the way to the finish and try to have fun in this amazing bike race.
I still can't believe what we've done this week, I was trying to remember this morning [of stage nine] to recap all that we'd achieved, we definitely didn't come in expecting to get so much. This is definitely a week that my team, myself, and the whole organisation around Orica-GreenEdge will never forget.
The toughest day for me, personally, was probably the first day I had the jersey, in Belfast [on stage two]. There was a lot of media stuff I had to do, doping control and so on, on the day I took the jersey, that night I didn't get to sleep until maybe half past one in the morning doing press conferences and all that.
So I was really tired the next day and I crashed on the way to Dublin [on stage three] too, and it was raining and really cold and in the final I wasn't able to contest the sprint. That was probably my worst day, too, my first full day in pink. I got all the bad luck out of the way that day and hopefully it was good luck from then on.
Winning at Monte Cassino was something special. I was starting to get the feeling I was just keeping the [leader's] jersey for the team and I really needed to show that I deserved the jersey and that I'm really respecting the jersey by going 110 percent each day, so I wanted to get the stage win. And when I got it, it really sunk in that I was actually good enough to be wearing the jersey at the moment and doing it proud at the same time, for my team and for myself. And getting that stage win was like the proof that Orica-GreenEdge does deserve the jersey for eight days, too."
As for sorting out the situation in [stage four to] Bari [where Matthews was called on to make decisions, as race leader, over the stage's eventual semi-neutralisation] I just went into the stage expecting havoc. So I didn't plan on telling the leaders [of the other teams] anything, so I went in with an open mind. But then all the big teams and really experienced riders came up to me saying this, that, and whatever.
It was quite difficult, as this is only the second Grand Tour of my life, and my first Giro, to have to put up with all these people yelling in my ears about what they wanted to do. I was copping a lot of stuff. In the end, I think it worked out as it should have, but some other teams acted a little bit inappropriately about what was going on. We should have all just said at the start of the race, 'obviously the rain is coming, let's do this no matter what' because we knew it was going to be wet and slippery and there would have been a lot of crashes if we'd raced the race normally.
So I think in future when we know exactly 100 percent it's going to be such a crazy final in such a short race, we need to say 'all right, this is the idea and this is what we're sticking with', not make a decision when we get to the course [finishing circuit], or 'we'll see in two laps' or 'we'll see in three laps', because that way it just creates more and more hassle for us and for the people that are watching it, and I think it just creates bad media.
As for the maglia rosa jerseys [of Giro race leader] and what I'll do with them, I have no idea. I'm hoping to get my pink bike from Scott and I think I'll frame the pink jersey, signed by all the boys and hang the whole lot on the wall and not touch it and just remember the amazing memories of this Giro 2014. It's been truly a dream come true, it's still unbelievable for me at the moment.
Follow Australia's hottest sprint talent Michael Matthews as he embarks on his debut in the 2014 Giro d'Italia. The Orica-GreenEdge rider will be writing a blow-by-blow account on his race for Cyclingnews.
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