Matt Goss Interview: Seven wins thus far, and ready for Milan-Sanremo
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Matt Goss Interview: Seven wins thus far, and ready for Milan-Sanremo

by Ed Hood at 6:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Milan-Sanremo
 
In-form sprinter raring to go on eve of La Primavera

Matt GossWith the countdown to the 102nd Milan – Sanremo now into the final stages, VeloNation caught up with a man who has to be on any list of favourites for the ‘Classic of Classics’ – Matt Goss.

It’s been a glittering season thus far for the HTC Highroad rider, who has won seven races. Those victories include stages in the Tour Down Under, Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice, and he has also worn the leader’s jersey in each of those events.

With a question mark over Mark Cavendish’s form – although the team says it’s got faith in the Briton - Goss heads to Milan-Sanremo as a very viable Plan B for the team.

He’s been building his career year by year. Unlike many of the Australian Institute of Sport’s precocious talents, who sparkle as juniors but whose star dims in the black hole of the pro peloton, Goss’s progress has been smooth and sustained.

The man from Bishopsbourne near Launceston, Tasmania was a double junior world champion in 2004, picking up gold in the team pursuit and Madison.

He joined the senior team pursuit squad and the following year was on the podium at the Worlds with team pursuit bronze around his neck. His road talent was beginning to show with a stage win in the Tour of Japan the same season.

In 2006 that team pursuit podium place became the one where the rainbow jerseys are handed out - and his U23 road palmares were also of the highest order.

He excelled in races which are the shop windows for the world’s young talent to display themselves to the pro team talent scouts; he won the GP Liberazione, a stage in the Giro delle Regione and perhaps most importantly, a stage in the Baby Giro. He also clocked up two stages in the Vuelta Ciclista a Navarra.

For season 2007 he was no longer in Australian Institute of Sport colours. Bjarne Riis knows potential when he sees it and Goss would spend three seasons within the CSC/Saxo Bank setup.

Even in his first year there were strong results - a stage win in the Tour of Britain and second at ‘Philly. He then claimed another Tour of Britain stage in 2008 and was third in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

He scored his biggest road win while with Saxo Bank in 2009: claiming Paris-Brussels as well as two stages in the Tour de la Region Wallonne and third spot in a tough edition of Gent-Wevelgem.

Last season saw his switch to HTC colours and arrival as a fully fledged ‘head’ – he won Philly, the GP Plouay, a stage in the Tour of Denmark, a stage in the Giro and was part of the HTC squad which scorched to victory in the nocturne prologue TTT in the Vuelta.

And with the end of March still two weeks away Goss has seven wins under his belt already – two stages and the GC in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, the Down Under Classic, a stage in the Tour Down Under, a stage in the Tour of Oman and a stage in Paris-Nice. He’s also worn the leader’s jersey in every stage race he’s ridden this season.

We spoke to him at his Monaco home with just days to go to the race many riders value as highly as a world championship.

VeloNation: You’ve got seven wins already, Matt. That’s pretty impressive, what do you put it down to?

Matt Goss: Yeah, I’ve picked up stage wins in all of the races I’ve ridden, this year – the Tour Down Under, Oman and Paris-Nice.

I started a lot earlier than usual – three weeks earlier, in fact. I rode the Vuelta then went home for the Worlds and was back on the bike in early November – with me riding back home, it was a change of environment and wasn’t hard on the head at all.

I got back into serious training early in December – so maybe if you ask me if I’m still fresh come the end of August, I’ll have a different answer for you!

VN: Which win has given you most satisfaction?

Matt GossMG: The stage in Paris-Nice; it’s my first win of the season in Europe and it’s such an important race with a big field and the best riders – it’s a big win.

Maybe if I’d won the GC Down Under . . . .

VN: On the first stage of Paris – Nice, when did you realise that De Gendt & Co. weren’t coming back?

MG: With three or four kilometres to go I had a look up the road and thought; ‘we’re not going to catch them!’ but the last 500 metres was up a drag and it’s amazing how much ground the bunch can make up in those circumstances.

VN: Stage two, second to Henderson…with hindsight, what are your thoughts?

MG: We rode well as a team but maybe committed a little bit too early; Thomas led Henderson out and I couldn’t get around Robbie Hunter on the one side and on the other Henderson was easing the gap a little towards the fence – but that’s what you do in a sprint.

In a finish like that you can’t hope to wash off speed and go again.

VN: Stage three – madness!

MG: Crazy! With all those twists and turns…when Sagan went down in front of me, it felt like I did a left turn then a right turn in the space of three metres.

I didn’t think I was going to come down but it didn’t leave me in the best position, that’s for sure. I had to commit much earlier than I thought I would have to - 300 metres to go - but I think maybe all that adrenaline I was producing must have helped in the last 100 metres!

Matt GossVN: How did it feel to ride in the leader’s jersey?

MG:
It was great to be leading such a prestigious race as Paris-Nice but I didn’t have a good day [in yellow]. I had real problems with my stomach.

VN: What did you think when De Gendt disappeared up the road?

MG: I did the math and figured that even if he got the bonuses I could still hang on to the jersey if I was top three in the sprint. But that was before my stomach went bad on me at 80 K.

The reason they stayed away was that we stopped chasing; there was no point with the way I was feeling.

VN: Then after the TT it was ‘all for Tony?’ [Tony Martin – ed.]

MG: Yeah, after that we were fully committed to him, we rode a perfect race for the last two days. I had to find my climbing legs to work for him.

I don’t have to do that too often, but it was fun and a great performance by the team.

VN: What are your views on the Paris-Nice v. Tirreno as preparation for Milan-Sanremo?

MG: I’ve never ridden Tirreno and this is my second time in Paris-Nice. I definitely think that if you ride Paris-Nice then you need one good hard ride between it and Sanremo…otherwise your body will shut down.

The argument is that Tirreno keeps you at a higher level until closer to Sanremo, but I think that if you get it right out of Paris-Nice than it shouldn’t be a problem.

VN: Talk us through your run-in to Saturday, please.

MG: I had Monday off, today (Tuesday) I did an hour – in the rain. Tomorrow I’ll do six hours if the weather permits. Thursday we’ll drive up to Milan and do an easy ride, then another easy ride on Friday.

VN: Have you done a finale recce with the team?

MG: The rest of the team have but I live in Monaco so it’s just along the road for me. I’ve ridden the finale a few times and know it like the back of my hand.

The road surfaces aren’t too bad but it’s just that if it rains, it gets very slippery.

VN: Who do you see as the danger men?

MG: [Thor] Hushovd, [Philippe] Gilbert in a late attack, Heinrich [Haussler] and [Tyler] Farrar; so many guys – [Edvald] Boasson-Hagen, [Oscar] Freire. Garmin are very strong.

It’s a dangerous year because there are so many guys going well. It’s possible even a late break could go, but they’d end up looking at each other.

VN: You must fancy your chances?

MG: I’m really looking forward to it, this is the best form I’ve had at this time of year. I think I have the legs to be with the lead group on Saturday.

VN:
And we have to ask – what about Cavendish?

MG: Cav knows what he’s doing – I haven’t seen too much of Tirreno but he’ll arrive in Milan properly prepared.

For HTC it’s a good situation, we’ll be coming into the race with more than one card to play.

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