The Australian won the bunch sprint for second after Peter Sagan skipped clear on the penultimate climb to take the biggest win of his career but Matthews opened a debate over his team's tactics after stating that he and teammate Simon Gerrans had sprinted against each other. Gerrans, who finished on the podium last year, took sixth but Matthews pondered whether the final result might have been different if Gerrans had worked for him.
When Sagan attacked Australia had strength in numbers and were one of the nations to lead the chase with Heinrich Haussler playing a key role.
"I think that I had maybe three guys," Matthews told Cyclingnews when he was asked about the number of teammates who were with him inside the final kilometres.
"Heinrich Haussler and Simon Gerrans. Heinrich did a really good job trying to pull it back a bit on the climb but he was working all through the race for me to keep it together and keep me in position, so he didn't really have much left in the end. Heinrich did a really good job today and kept himself out of trouble and put me in the perfect position, which is a really hard job to do. I'm really grateful for that."
When asked if Gerrans had helped him, he replied: "No, I think we were sprinting against each other unfortunately. We had two leaders so it is was it is."
When then asked if he was disappointed if Gerrans had not worked for him, he added: "Yeah, I would have liked the full support but it is what it is. We came in with two leaders."
Matthews came into the race a prime contender for gold medal and although he came away without the rainbow jersey he did add that the course had provided a test of his abilities. He even took time to praise Sagan, who he lives near in Monaco.
"I actually really enjoyed the race today. It was a really nice course with those cobbles and I've never really raced this sort of circuit before, with uphill cobbles. It was a Flanders sort of race and it was really fun."
"Unfortunately it's not the gold. I came here to win the race and I had the legs and had the form to win but Sagan slid away there and we weren't able to catch him."
When Sagan attacked, Matthews was a handful of wheels further down on the climb. The Australian looked comfortable and attempted to move up but he was unable to latch onto the move.
"I was about fifth or sixth wheel when he went and two guys in front of me and the three guys that got away dropped the wheel. I thought that some other guys would close it but obviously they didn't. I thought that we'd catch him with three kilometres to go and it being such a hard race but maybe we underestimated him a little bit. I'm really happy for him actually."
Australia have finished on the podium in the men's race for the last two years – a measure of consistency but Matthews alluded to the point of view that the team should consider a change of tactics in the future.
"It's good in way [to get another medal] but bad in way because we've not won one yet in these last few years. I think maybe we need a change of strategy."
Finally, he was asked if the team should work for one leader?
"Hopefully," was his response.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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