Matthews repeating home worlds formula

·3-min read

Australian cycling star Michael Matthews is banking on lightning striking twice as he guns for his first elite world road championship.

The 31-year-old has been in his home town of Canberra, replicating the preparation that landed him the under-23 world title in 2010 at Geelong.

That was the last time the road worlds were in Australia and he will be among the favourites on Sunday over a tough course in and around Wollongong.

While the strong Australian men's team boasts several options, Matthews looms as their best bet for success.

Selectors controversially left out sprint ace Caleb Ewan, meaning Matthews is their man if the race comes down to a reduced bunch sprint.

Matthews has been training at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra with two of his national teammates, Heinrich Haussler and Simon Clarke, after they raced earlier this month in Canada.

Long-time national coach Dave Sanders has been helping them with their preparations.

Matthews finished second in Quebec to showcase his pre-worlds form, backing up from a Tour de France stage win in July.

"We wouldn't be here doing this unless we thought it was possible to win," Matthews said.

"We've ticked all the boxes to this point.

"I believe in our chance to win."

The trip to Canberra is Matthews' first visit to his home town since 2017.

"It makes it all the sweeter now, coming here for the world championships, being at the AIS in Canberra, it's really special," he said.

Matthews said preparing in the same way that worked so well 12 years ago was a big confidence boost.

His under-23 road race win in Geelong set the scene for his successful elite career.

Matthews was second at the 2015 worlds, but is yet to win the elite world road race rainbow jersey.

"Thinking back to 2010, it's the same preparation we did ... that worked out pretty well," he said.

"So if it works, don't change it. We're back here with a really nice crew, 12 years after the Geelong worlds."

Despite all his professional success, including four Tour stage wins and the 2017 green jersey in the race, Matthews reflects on Geelong with great fondness.

"I still watch the finish over and over again. It was one of those days when all your stars align," he said.

Meanwhile, Australian Hamish McKenzie collected silver on Tuesday in the junior men's time trial in Wollongong.

British rider Josh Tarling won the 28.8km event in 34 minutes 59.26 seconds, 19.19 seconds quicker than McKenzie. German Emil Herzog was 33.45 off the pace for the bronze.

Cameron Rogers was 14th and William Eaves finished 18th.

It was double gold for Great Britain as young talent Zoe Backstedt took out the women's junior time trial ahead of German Justyna Czapla and Belgian Febe Jooris.

Of the Australians, Isabelle Carnes finished eighth, Bronte Stewart was 17th and Lucy Stewart took 21st.