How a video game gave Michael Matthews his winning edge in Quebec City

Australian has Hugo Houle looking to Gran Turismo for training ahead of the UCI Road World Championships

September 13th, 2019 by | Posted in News | Tags: ,

It all happened very fast in the final kilometre of the Gran Prix Cycliste de Québec. With 300 m to go, Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) still had a massive gap to close to five late attackers that included Julian Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet. The Australian opened up a powerful sprint shutting the leaders down and powering to his second consecutive victory just outside the walls of the old town.

Top-Canadian in Quebec, Hugo Houle (Astana) who finished 15th was seated next to Matthews in the post-race press conference when he revealed that playing videos in the days leading up to the GP Quebec played a part in his victory. The Canadian now plans to spend some times with a controller in hand ahead of the UCI Road World Championships.

While many champions are cagey about revealing their secrets to success, Matthews was quite forward with the reason he was able to make the right decisions in the high-stress final meters of the Laurentian Classic.

“I’ve been playing a lot of PlayStation these days, car racing, I can’t exactly remember what happened. I sorta get this tunnel vision so I would like to see the top view [of the sprint] but I think I was just racing with my heart,” Matthews said about his dramatic win.

Matthews has largely had a 2019 season to forget after going winless at the Tour de France and only taking two wins back in March at the Volta a Catalunya (2.UWT) to show for until Friday’s race in Quebec.

Hugo Houle (Astana) climbs in the peloton at the GP Quebec.

“When I overthink it too much that’s when I make mistakes. ‘Am I going too early? Going to late'” Matthews said. “I just go and I don’t even know when I opened my sprint actually but it felt like it was in slow motion which is a good sign. I think playing PlayStation definitely helped me seeing all the gaps in the bunch and being able to time my sprint properly.

“I’ve been playing a lot of Gran Turismo the last couple of days,” Matthews explained about his secret to success on Friday. “That’s not even a joke.”

Houle, sitting next to Matthews perked up upon hearing this nugget of information. When asked for another question, Houle chimed in.

“I have a question, which car do you drive in Gran Turismo cause I expect to start playing next week,” Houle asked with a smirk.

Matthews, who was still soaking in the victory, was happy to reveal all his secrets.

“Well, I just bought the game so you actually have to go step by step, it’s too realistic these days. It’s crazy you have to spend so much time to build up your levels. You gotta change cars, try different ones, see which one you really like. My favourite right now is a Subaru [Impreza] 22B cause its four-wheel drive. It’s my favourite car since I was a little kid. I actually have one at home too. It’s a good time.”

So maybe all that time with a gaming controller in hand could pay off when it comes to making quick decisions and finding the right gaps in a WorldTour one-day race like the GP Quebec.