What a brilliant season the BMC rider had. He was riding for Tejay Van Garderen, for most of the season, but still managed to pull off some impressive results: 4th in California, 5th in the Tour de Suisse, 2 stage wins in the Tour of Austria, 2nd in the USA Pro Challenge (and a stage win) and finally 3rd in GP de Wallonie.
He has now moved to IAM Cycling as he is now 27 and wants to see if he can make the move from teammate, to leader.
I think he can and he will be a very dangerous rider in stage races in 2014, and he has the potential to go top 10 in the Tour.
Here is an interview I did with Mathias:-
What did you make of your 2013 season?
It was a great year for me, a breakthrough season. I made a lot of progress and I was very satisfied with the results on the road.
Which race gave you the most satisfaction?
Leading my home race, the Tour de Suisse, was very satisfying. After having a good Tour of California, I knew that I arrived in the best shape I could have. It showed me that when I’m in good shape I can go for GC.
How disappointed were you not to win the race?
For sure, it was disappointing not to win. I had a really bad final day (ITT) and I really cracked for whatever reason. I had been solid in TTs this year, but in the most important race I didn’t do well, that’s why I was disappointed. In general, I had a really great week and was pleased to lead the race.
On stage 7, which featured the Albulapass Climb, your teammate Tejay Van Garderen, went with the attack of Rui Costa. This left you isolated, but you limited your losses after working with Cameron Meyer. Do you think this was the wrong tactic?
Tejay had just won the Tour of California and was in super form. In the race, he was doing the perfect job as a teammate. TJ did a great race and did his job 100%.
In the Tour of Austria, you looked in great shape. You won stage 5, which featured a short, steep climb at the end. Will you be looking to ride some of the 1 day races, with this type of finish?
I think my major goals will be stage races, but races like Leige, Fleche and Lombardia I really like and I have raced them in service of some of the best riders in the world. I’d like to try them to see how it goes.
On stage 4 of the Tour of Austria, you were about to crest the big climb and take full points for the KOM jersey. As you tried to put on your jacket, Chris-Anker Sorensen attacked you, but you responded and sprinted past him. It was one of the funniest moments of 2013. What did you think of it?
It was really cold and I needed to pick up a jacket. I thought that I had the points as I had already dropped the rest and I thought I was safe. When I collected the jacket it had already opened up, so I had to decide to put it on immediately or put it back in my pocket and wait for the fast downhill! I tried to put it on, then he attacked me but I managed to claim the points and be first over the climb. It wasn’t my best move!
In America this year you were very strong, in both the Tour of California (4th) and the USA Pro Challenge (2nd). What is it you like about racing there?
Racing in the US is very different to anywhere else. You have to be relaxed and have a good team, which we had this year with BMC. As it’s more relaxed, there is more space in the peloton and this makes it easier for the riders. What I really like is that the crowds are amazing and the landscapes are beautiful. I think Colorado is one of the most beautiful places to ride a bike. I love riding in the States, you have these fanatical crowds, full of crazy people, and it’s always fun! It’s just great to race in the USA.
You won stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge, after putting in a big attack at the top of the final climb. How pleasing was it to win the stage?
I had a lot of confidence and with me were 2 young guys, Lawson Craddock and Lachlan Morton. I’m 27 now and have more experience, so I knew when I needed to attack, and I did!
You have now moved to IAM Cycling and have more responsibility as a team leader. How will you cope with the extra pressure?
It is really what I’ve been searching for, as I’m not the youngest anymore. I’m entering my best years and I found out this year that I’m at the right moment in my career to see if I can lead. I think I’ve proven throughout my career that I’ve been a good teammate riding for guys like Tejay, now I have to find out if I can do it. IAM Cycling is the perfect team for me, it’s a really familiar team and they are slightly lower in profile, so there isn’t as much pressure. They are a great bunch of guys and it’s a real chance for me to prove to myself and everyone else, that I can be more than a teammate.
What races will you be looking to target in 2014?
We are a Swiss team and I am a Swiss rider, so we will be looking to do well in the Tour of Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. The big goal will be the Tour de France, if selected. This will be the main objective of the team and I.
If you get selected for the Tour de France, you could go in as one of the leaders, with Sylvain Chavanel. How exciting would that be?
We have a very balanced team. We won’t be going for the win in the Tour but we would love to take the maillot jaune for a few days, win a stage, take the KOM jersey or get a top 10 finish. We are a good team and have a lot of capable riders. For myself, I want to go as high as possible on GC. If I say I want to go for the top 10, it won’t be our only goal, as Chavanel can win in the 1st week and Haussler could win a stage. This means that the pressure won’t all be on me.
Would getting into the top 10 be better than winning a stage?
This is something I really have to see, as we come towards the Tour. It would be great to win a stage but personally I haven’t really tried to go for GC in a 3 week tour. I know I can be consistent for 10 days but I want to see how far I can go for the GC. Usually the 10th rider on GC is around 20 minutes down, so it would still be possible to get in a breakaway and win a stage.
What would your main goal for 2014 be?
My main goal will be to do well in the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. I want to improve again in my home race and find out what it’s like to win races like this.
What are IAM Cycling like as a team?
We’ve had a few meetings now and it’s really a great atmosphere amongst the team. They are very friendly and I can have a lower profile with them. From what I have seen so far, they are a very professional team and I think we’re going to have a good year.
What is your race program for 2014?
I will start in the Tour of Oman and I will also ride Paris-Nice, Romandie, the Tour de Suisse and hopefully the Tour de France.