Michael Matthews started 2024 with a win at Ruta de la Cerámica-Gran Premio Castellón on Sunday, indicating he has reset and rebuilt after a rollercoaster 2023 season filled with illness, crashes and personal disappointment.
The 33-year-old Australian will share leadership at Jayco-AlUla in 2024 with Simon Yates, Dylan Groenwegen and new signings Caleb Ewan and Luke Plapp, and he’s convinced that spreading the load or team leadership can be good for him and his teammates.
“In the end, for our team, we just need wins. And I think wins bring more wins. If we’re winning in multiple different areas that is only a bonus for the team,” Matthews told Cyclingnews with a simple but logical philosophy.
“I think having multiple leaders is the key to having a successful team. It’s the way cycling is going these days – the racing is so open and multiple different things can happen in your race, and I think having different options is definitely the key to success.
“So the arrival of the new guys doesn’t do anything to me personally. I think it only brings our team up to another level. If we have a faster guy than me in our team, I can do an awesome lead out for them and we can race together and give us different strategic options.”
Matthews targeted the Tour Down Under in 2023 but a trip home to Australia started a series of misfortune, crashes and problems that were exacerbated by two bouts of COVID-19.
This year he opted to spend his winter in Europe.
“This has been a much smoother start to the year, without the same problems. My whole offseason has been much nicer to prepare for the season,” he explained from Jayco-AlUla’s training camp in Spain.
The camp follows a weekend of success that saw Dylan Groenwegen also win the opening Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 race. The sun is out in Spain and Matthews was upbeat.
“We threw these races in just to sort of break up the training camp a little bit and to have a hit out and see how the off-season has gone. It seems to have gone really well…” he said.
Matthews is nicknamed Bling for his success, his showmanship and his love for jewellery and fast cars. Yet he is also an introspective and sensitive soul, who dedicates his life to racing. He can celebrate big victories but also suffers in defeat, his emotions often pouring out.
“Anyone that is close to me knows how much I put into the sport. Cycling is my world,” Matthews…