Australia's Michael Matthews has narrowly missed out on the medals in the men's road race at the cycling world championships in Doha, finishing fourth.
By
Cycling Central

17 Oct 2016 - 10:49 AM 

Matthews, 26, missed out on a second straight medal after claiming silver in 2015, in Richmond, Virginia. He finished behind race winner and defending champion Peter Sagan (SVK), Mark Cavendish (GBR) and Tom Boonen (BEL).

Countryman Mathew Hayman finished further back in 21st place having also produced an impressive ride.

Despite the close miss, the Australia men’s road director Brad McGee said the race was the culmination of a strong effort by Matthews and team.

'King Sagan' conquers Doha war of attrition for two-year rainbow reign
Peter Sagan powered home to his second consecutive road world championship, conquering Mark Cavendish and a vintage Tom Boonen. Australia's Michael Matthews finished fourth in a sprint finale befitting the windy race of attrition.

“Michael gave himself every opportunity to win that bike race," McGee said. "There’s always a risk that someone is going to play it safe and sprint for a minor place. He didn’t do that.”

“Michael put himself in the right position at the right time to win,” McGee added. “I’ve got nothing but huge accolades for his ride, and I think Australia can be proud of his performance.”

The decisive moment happened around 180km from the finish when crosswinds split the bunch as the Belgium team put on a masterclass of riding in those conditions, with a host of several top sprinters caught out.

We knew all along that this would happen,” McGee said. “We expected a split of 20-25 riders, and we thought if we got two or three in there, it would be a win. We also thought the second group would probably come back. Everyone was on target for that.”

Matthews made the selection along with Luke Durbridge and Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman, but later lost Durbridge to a crash. 

“That was disappointing,” McGee said. “After clearing the technical section in the front group with Hayman and Bling, that was really tough to handle. You put all that work in and get the maximum riders you think can get in the front group and then you lose from one little crash.”

“Matty is the perfect guy to have next to Michael if you can choose only one. They gelled together in the build-up to the finish.

“Mat did his job. He did everything he could to put Michael in the right place.”

The finish saw Matthews overtaken by the top-rated trio of Mark Cavendish (GBR), eventual winner Peter Sagan (SVK) and Tom Boonen (BEL).

“I know Michael is very disappointed,” McGee said. “He’s a winner. He comes here to win, and he knows he has the ability to win. Even today, which was one of the worst courses we’ve seen for his style of racing, he backed himself.

“I think come tomorrow, he’ll be able to look back on the positives and give himself a pat on the back. We’ll all certainly do that tonight. I’ve got nothing but huge respect for the effort he gave today, all the boys gave today, and the way they put themselves in a position to win.”