Michael Matthews racing for victory and salvation at GP Québec
Aussie ace wanted the win but came away happy with some vital UCI points: 'Second place is a lot of points and I'm happy with my sprint.'
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QUEBEC, Canada (VN) — Michael Matthews was racing against innumerable rivals both on and off the bike at the sharp end of the action at Friday’s Grand Prix Cyclist de Québec.
The Australian kicked to second in an important test of form ahead of the road worlds on home roads later this month, but he was also chasing elusive UCI points that could help save the WorldTour future of his BikeExchange-Jayco team.
The Aussie outfit is in a dogfight with another half dozen WorldTour teams near the bottom of the team rankings, and second place to Benoît Cosnefroy felt like victory even if Matthews wanted more.
“Second place here is a lot of points,” Matthews said. “It’s changing racing and not in a good way I think. In the end, it is what it is at the moment, and we have to accept the situation, and do our best to get as many points as we can.”
- Matthews: ‘I love the pressure of leadership’
- Cosnefroy surprises favorites in Québec
- Van Aert stymied in rare misfire at Québec
Coming into this weekend, BikeExchange-Jayco was ranked 17th, just ahead of Movistar, and behind EF Education-EasyPost in the team rankings.
On Friday, the UCI confirmed that it is is moving forward with its controversial plan to award WorldTour licenses for the next three years to the top-18 ranked UCI teams.
The points Matthews earned with second place will give the team some breathing room, especially since Movistar was fifth with Iván García Cortina and EF was eighth with Alberto Bettiol.
“It is making racing a bit strange, especially for us riders,” he said of the points battle. “Our goal is to get as many points as we can. Knowing how strong the field is here in Canada, our goal was to try to get two or three guys into the top-15 or top-20.
“I think this was the fastest Québec ever. In that situation sometimes you have to support the strongest rider, and today that was me,” he said. “We had to sacrifice our entire team to try to get me as high as possible in the final.”
Matthews taking confidence to Australia: ‘I’m happy with my sprint’
Matthews will face off again against rivals on and off the road on Sunday at GP Montréal before traveling to Australia next week.
Matthews will be one of the favorites for the stripes in the elite men’s road race on September 25, and will have the added pressure and advantage of racing on homes roads.
On Friday in Québec, BikeExchange-Jayco pulled to bring back a 10-rider escape that included Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and then positioned Matthews into the final climb where Cosnefroy surprised the pack.
“Personally, I am satisfied with my ride and my sprint,” Matthews said. “Unfortunately it was for second and not for the win. But I am happy here, because I’ve been two times a winner, and now third time second. But it’s a good sign for Sunday in Montréal and two weeks from now in Wollongong.”
Another trip to the podium in Canada for @blingmatthews 🥈 pic.twitter.com/702RhfIf1E
— Team BikeExchange-Jayco (@GreenEDGEteam) September 9, 2022
Like many in the race, Matthews was watching Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who is the big favorite in Wollongong as well as in just about every one-day race he starts.
Matthews said he played off Van Aert’s pre-race-favorite status Friday.
“Everyone was focusing on Wout for the sprint and he had another rider up the road in move,” Matthews said. “So I really had to play my cards and hope that it would come back together for some sort of sprint.
“We were hoping that the other teams would panic a little bit and help bring it back, but Benoit made a good move there, and he had too much of a gap for anyone to catch him.”
Matthews is hoping that the stars align in the coming weeks, both for himself at the world championships and for his pro team in its quest to secure its WorldTour future.