UCI Road World Championships bronze medalist Michael Matthews conceded he had no idea what position he was racing for in a thrilling finish to the men’s elite road race.
The Australian was part of the peloton that caught the chase group squabbling over the final two places on the podium in the dying moments of the mammoth 266.9km race.
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Evenepoel made his move with two laps to go on the streets of Wollongong, leaving the rest to fight over second and third.
Initially, a tightly packed group looked like they would fight over the last podium spots until they baulked and the peloton caught up.
But the group were none the wiser as to which positions they were vying for.
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“We were sort of talking in the peloton if we were still racing for anything because we didn’t know exactly where anyone was and it’s really difficult to get information in a world championship,” Matthews said.
“There was still attacking on the final climb up Mount Pleasant, so the race was still on. And then we just sort of kept catching bunches towards even the last 500m of the race.
“I think we were still not even sprinting for top 10, but then I saw the French team lining up for [Christophe] Laporte for the lead-out for him and I jumped on the back of that and did my thing in the sprint.
“But even afterwards I didn’t know exactly where I finished. I found out a couple of minutes later that I was actually third.”
The Canberra-born rider had to wait more than a minute before finding out where he had finished.
It’s the third time Matthews has finished on the podium in a UCI Road World Championships event.
However, the gold medal at the elite level continues to elude the 32-year-old.
Matthews claimed silver in the 2015 edition in the United States, bronze in 2017 in Norway, and now bronze again this year on home soil.
“I’ve been second before, but that second was also quite a long way away like this one was,” Matthews said.
“The level of cycling at the moment is so high. It’s incredible to be up here with this bronze medal. Obviously, we came here for the rainbow stripes on home soil but coming away with a third place definitely feels like a win.”
Beyond Matthews, Jai Hindley and Simon Clarke were the next best finishers for Australia in 49th and 50th respectively.
Heinrich Haussler was 67th, Nicholas Schultz was 91st, while Lucas Plapp, Ben O’Connor and Luke Durbridge failed to finish.
Next year’s UCI Road World Championships will form part of the all-new UCI Cycling World Championships.
The UCI Cycling World Championships will be held every four years in the year prior to the Summer Olympic Games.
The inaugural edition will take place in Glasgow, Scotland on August 3-13 and includes the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and UCI Track Cycling World Championships among other titles.
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