Paul Burgoine talks to former Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss who raced the London Nocturne last night about the pressure of leading an Aussie team in the Grand Tours and goals for the Tour de France & Olympics.
Thanks to Paul Burgoine
PB: You had a spate of second places in races until your stage win in the Giro d’Italia, how important was that win for you and the team?
Matt Goss: “I was starting to get a bit frustrated for a while. I think it was about five second places in nine race starts so the win in the Giro made all the work through the Tour of Turkey and the first stages of the Giro worthwhile.”
“It’s nice to repay the team for all the consistent hard work they put in, not getting the wins, but it’s a bit of payback for those guys. They were really committed every time we went out and raced, and that win just gave me the confidence to go into the later stages with better mindset and unloaded a lot of pressure I guess.”
Goss racing at the Noctune a few years ago
PB: How did you feel after your Giro d’Italia?
Matt Goss: “I came out feeling ok actually – mentally I was still feeling quite fresh after the thirteen days I did. this year’s race was one of the better ones I’ve seen for the actual racing, the stages were more forgiving than they have been in previous years”.
“There was an equal amount of opportunities for sprinters and intermediate days then big mountains to finish. I didn’t do that last week but I came out of it feeling quite fresh. I had a bit of time off, then headed off the Monaco to ride the mountains at Isla2000 doing some altitude training for a week then came back down from there a few days ago and completed a few more intense days.”
PB: How is the Orica Green Edges lead out train working out for you?
Matt Goss: “It a very technical skill and we weren’t expecting it to be perfect straight away we have been trialing it and using a few different people here and there. I think in the Giro we really nailed two guys down, that was Brett Lancaster and Daryl Impey.”
“They were always there, always at the front, constantly in good position. it still needs a little piece of tweaking here and there I think – that’s for sure, but for a new team and with riders I have never ridden with before, I think it’s gelling very well together and the Tour of Turkey and the Giro have been very good preparation for the Tour.”
PB: How do you feel your transition from lead out man to sprinter has gone? Sometimes it can go terribly wrong.
Matt Goss: “Yes it definitely can and you look at some of the guys that left HTC they didn’t have the best years after they left, you need to get used to different structures. My transition into a leader has been pretty gradual I think.”
“At HTC in the first year I was working behind Cavendish and Griepel then the year after when Greipel left, I was taking on more of a split role with Cavendish . Now this year I’m going onto being more of a leader in my own right so it’s been a steady transition. I’ve not just gone from nothing to taking control.”
Goss in full flight last night ahead of Jonny McEvoy of Endura Racing
“This year has been a bit different, a new team working with new guys and we have to have everything gelling right. It’s not just that last 200meters, you got to make sure everyone is in good spirits and working well together and motivated otherwise you’re not going to have the guys there in that final 200m .”
PB: Do you feel more pressure as a team leader?
Matt Goss: “More pressure started to come after last year when I started to win more races. After San Remo (victory) ,there were defiantly more eyes on me. You feel that pressure but I have always said, and I think it’s true that the most pressure comes from yourself….”
“I put more pressure on myself to perform, and I don’t worry about the pressure from the media or any magazine puts on me. It’s my job to be there and you set out your goals at the start of the year, you’re the one that looks silly if you don’t achieve them so most defiantly the most pressure is from yourself.”
“There is more weight on your shoulders when you are the leader, but when you come to the final 200m you’re not worried about who you will upset if you don’t win, you’re more worried about the job at hand.”
PB: What are your objectives for the Tour de France?
Matt Goss: “Well the first and foremost goal is to win a stage at the Tour, that is both mine and the teams objective, that is what will be on our radar for the first part, and we will have to see how consistent we are as to whether the green jerseys an option to go for or not – so the biggest goal is the stage win.”
PB: How do you feel about the Olympic Road Race Course?
Matt Goss:“I raced the test event here in August last year and that’s a great insight to be able to race on that course before the Games. I think a race that long is never just a pure sprinters race. In the Worlds last year, there were still guys getting dropped and there was only a 300m hill in it so the Olympic Games is in a different ball park again I think, because you have only got five riders as opposed to nine in the worlds so it’s a lot more difficult to control.”
“The perfect example was last year and the British team…. put some guys on the front and just ride all day. It’s a lot more difficult to do that when you only have five riders. Fair play, you got Wiggins and some other good guys that can do that. You have to spend your energy where it’s really needed in a race that’s over 240k long.”
“It could be a sprint but I think personally it will be more of a classics rider that comes to the finish. It won’t be weak sprinters that are coming to the final, maybe Boonen or Hushovd. I think it will be only about 30 or so riders coming to the finish, maybe even a group of five or ten. It’s going to take cooperation from a lot of nations which doesn’t happen very often.”
“I think it’s up in the air but I don’t feel there will be a big bunch sprint but a sprint from a small group.”
PB: Your name was thrown about by the media to maybe get another classics win – do you think that’s a possibility?
Matt Goss: “It defiantly is. I didn’t end up racing Roubaix this year because I did Terrino Adriatico and pulled out early with illness and put on a dose of antibiotics between then and San Remo. I was back to about 90% but in a long race when you’re sick you get sick again. I got better by Gent Wevelgem but got sick again there…. then antibiotics again before Flanders.”
“I didn’t go well at Flanders so we made the decision not to race Roubaix which wasn’t a decision we made too lightly because it’s a race I would love to do well in in the future. The first year there, I was in a sprint going for about tenth place and the race has such an aura about it – I love it. So not racing this year was a big call because it’s not a race you can win after a few attempts. Maybe after eight or ten times unless your Tom Boonen…. it takes a lot of experience knowing where to use energy and places where if something happens, the race isn’t over. Hopefully I can perform there in the future.”
PB: Orica Green Edge have a lot of talented young riders – does it help having them in a mainly Australian team?
Matt Goss: “I think it can and will do. Aussies are like the Brits, pretty passionate about their cycling. And having the youngsters in a good environment with positive role models to learn from, can give them a healthy pathway as they build on their own careers and how to go about things.”
“There is so much horse power with these young guys they’re good enough to win just about any race they put their minds to. Look at Luke Durbridge who just won the Dauphine prologue, a first year pro and he has won a top draw prologue. Some of these guys pointed in the right direction are going to be phenomenal bike riders.”
“I think the mentality and environment in the team is perfect. If these guys went to a French speaking team, you sit at the table and don’t understand nothing, that’s a really hard environment to be in. Being in an Australian team is just a lot easier. There’s less stress, you know what’s going on and you can talk to someone if you have a problem. It’s the perfect infrastructure for young guys to further their careers.”
PB: How do you feel about racing around this historic area of London in the Nocturne.
Matt Goss: “Yeah,I actually like it. I raced here two years ago and really enjoyed the event. I will go out and check out some of the earlier races. It’s a great atmosphere and a fantastic opportunity to race under lights in the evening. Something you don’t get to do very often, only the odd crit in Australia. You get a lot of people here people going to dinner and others coming back from dinner it gets there interest to, and I think it’s a great concept. I love racing here and hopefully we can get some success .”