Michael Matthews (Sunweb) took the rare decision to skip a full programme of post-Tour de France criteriums in a bid to remain on track for the second half of the season. This year's winner of the green jersey was invited to take part in a series of races across Europe after his impressive Tour performance saw him win two stages and net the points classification. However, with a series of WorldTour goals and the World Championships on the horizon, the Australian passed up the chance of racing the lucrative evening criteriums.
"I've still got a big season ahead of me and last year when I did the crits it took a lot of energy out of me for the second half of the season," Matthews told Cyclingnews at Sunday's RideLondon.
"This time I decided to just use the time to rest at home. I've got big ambitions for the second half of the season and my team are paying me to race for them. In the end, that's what I have to do. So I went home, I rested, and I started back up with RideLondon."
Matthews' debut season at Sunweb has gone from strength to strength but the Australian is in no mood to ease off with several important one-day races left on his schedule. His stage racing programme for 2018 is over but the one-day programme builds towards the crescendo of the World Championships in Norway.
"I have Plouay and Hamburg, the Canadian Classics and then Worlds. There are only a few more race days. I think the Worlds course suits me. We went and did a recon a few months ago and it's hard to say who it really suits because of the weather aspect, but it's going to be exciting for sure."
Although Matthews is focused on his remaining races, the Tour de France success is still fresh in his mind and he is still coming to terms with his green jersey triumph.
"It was about being consistent during the whole Tour," he said.
"I was up there every single day apart from one day when I was outside the top 10. From there I went and won two stages and that got me a lot of points. The intermediates then helped me narrow the gap."
While Matthews' bid for green was built on consistency and a determination to keep plugging away, even when the competition looked out of his reach, he had to overcome a hotly-tipped Marcel Kittel in the second half of the race. The German looked in control of the points classification until Matthews began to chip away at the lead with a flurry of breakaway rides and intermediate sprint wins.
"I was doing everything I could to try and break him. There were a lot of hard stages in the Tour but when he came with me in the breakaway it was either because he had really good legs or that he wasn't very confident. It's a scary thought, and every day I have to pinch myself when I think about what we achieved."
Matthews is uncertain as to whether he will try and defend his green jersey in twelve months' time.
"It depends on the goals of the team. With the Tom Dumoulin winning the Giro this year, then maybe he has the target of going for the Tour next year. It's going to be about looking at the overall goals of the team."
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