Michael Matthews of Jayco AlUla, now 33, is gearing up to bid farewell to his tumultuous 2023 season. A year marked by illness, crashes, and unforeseen mechanical issues, leaving the Australian cyclist yearning for a fresh start.
Wrapping up his 13th season in the WorldTour at the Veneto Classic this past Sunday, Matthews had raced for 55 days, managing just one victory — a stage win at the Giro d’Italia. Although he secured other placements, the satisfaction he sought remained elusive.
He candidly expressed his desire to put this year behind, “It’s essentially been chaotic. I'm ready to wind down and put this year out of my mind." Despite starting the season strong, clinching third at the Australian nationals, the Tour Down Under brought its share of tribulations.
A key moment saw his chances diminish when his chain dropped after a bump from fellow riders. This incident led to Matthews questioning the sportsmanship within the Peloton.
Matthews' Turbulent Triumphs
His woes were far from over.
On returning to Europe, he contracted COVID-19, sidelining him from Paris-Nice and causing him to miss Milan-San Remo. Furthermore, an untimely crash in Flanders saw him benched for the classics. These setbacks meant he entered the Giro with a mere 10-day training.
Yet, against the odds, he clinched victory on stage 3 in Melfi, overpowering contenders like Mads Pedersen and Kaden Groves with a formidable uphill sprint. However, Matthews' triumphs were limited thereafter, with his performance characterized by DNFs and occasional podiums, as seen in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec.
Looking forward, Matthews plans to rejuvenate and regroup during the offseason in anticipation of his 2024 campaign with Jayco-AlUla. He expressed his unwavering passion and remarked, “I'm still in love with cycling.
Hopefully, next year will be a brighter chapter." Reflecting on the year, Jayco AlUla’s Sports Director, Matthew White, pointed to the adjustments made to Matthews’ race program, highlighting his persistent challenges in reaching peak form.
While the possibility of Matthews returning for the Tour Down Under in January seems unlikely, White anticipates a February debut for the resilient cyclist in Europe.