Michael Matthews is a phenomenal athlete who, however, probably found himself in the wrong period of cycling history, as he reached the peak of his maturity just as the new golden generation was about to explode and, despite all the hard work he has put in to stay at the top of the game, in recent years disappointments have drastically outnumbered victories.
Let’s make it clear, this is the fate of 99% of riders, but to include Matthews with that 99% would be nothing short of simplistic. He has won 40 races in his career and, between 2014 and 2018, he was undoubtedly one of the sparkling diamonds of the bunch, winning often and on every soil, especially in the Grand Tours. When he was a young up-and-coming athlete riding around Australian velodromes, they started calling him Bling because he gave the impression of being someone who lived a lavish life, wearing diamond earrings, gold bracelets and fancy dress style. “However, I always saw that nickname not only about the way I dressed up, but also about the way I am, always happy with who I am and what I have”.
Despite his cheerful personality, it must not have been easy for good old Matthews to keep a smile on his face this spring. He had his sights set on Milano-Sanremo, the Classic that perhaps best suits him, but instead he caught covid two days before the race, bidding farewell to any hopes of triumph in Via Roma. At that point, he tried to recover for the Tour of Flanders, but facing walls and cobblestones with a barely eradicated virus is obviously not pleasant. He withdrew and gave up every other race until the Giro d’Italia.