The Australian's major objective post-Tour was last month's World Championships, where he claimed bonze, adding to his silver from 2015. Rather than pack in the season, Matthews is racing in China to extend his gratitude to teammates and staff despite late-season fatigue.
"I am pretty tired, to be totally honest. Since the Worlds it has been pretty hard to keep training and keep motivated," Matthews told Cyclingnews in Beihai. "I did Tre Valli Varesine and Lombardia, then went to Australia in between Lombardia and here. I had a little bit of downtime in Australia, I was still on my bike but I wasn't training so seriously, and hopefully I can bring some good form here."
The trip back to Australia was Matthews' first in two years and is limited to just five days. Despite the limitation on his visit, the trip and the weeks since Worlds have provided the 27-year-old space to decompress and ruminate on 2017.
"It's nice to also reflect on the season and how it's gone. Especially our team, because we've had a really amazing year," he said of his first year with Sunweb. "For me, my season kind of finishes after the Worlds. If I can keep getting results after Worlds, it's great but my mind was really set for the World Championships. Afterwards, you can take a little bit of a step back and enjoy the races after the worlds and enjoy being with you teammates before the off-season starts."
Stepping back for Matthews at the Tour of Guangxi primarily involves the eight-time Grand Tour stage winner turning lead-out man for the 1.99-metre tall German Max Walscheid. Last October, Walscheid won five stages of the Tour of Hainan and is a proven winner in China. On stage 1 of the Tour of Guangxi, Matthews led out Walscheid to fourth place.
"We have also Max Walscheid here for the sprints and Wilco Kelderman for the GC. I am more just to help out in the lead out really. I don't really need to do too much. Especially because I can go in with an open mind and not too much pressure on me to actually deliver in a sprint for something. I can take a step back and try to help my teammates that have helped me through the year."
Reiterating that he doesn't "have too many ambitions", Matthews explained a team win is the goal across the six-stages.
"For the team, we want to get a stage win," he said. "That is what we came here for, and we brought two really good guys that are motivated for getting that win. If for any reason they are not there, for sure I will step up and see what I can do. They are the two main goals for us at the race."
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