Retrospective: Matt Goss on Milan-San Remo (2011)
It’s all about timing and picking the right moves to follow. In Milan-San Remo 2011, Matt Goss got everything right! He also happened to be fast and strong enough to beat the likes of Fabian, Philippe and Alessandro. This was a coming-of-age moment for Australian cycling: a classic win in a Monument of the sport.
Rob Arnold spoke to ‘Gossie’ about his win on the Monday after the race. Here is a transcript of that interview that was first published in RIDE #52 (May 2011).
Matt Goss interview (March 2011)
RIDE: Talking to Allan Peiper (the DS for HTC at Milan-San Remo in 2011) about the sprint, we agreed that it was one of the best sequences in cycling of the year. Can you remember the finish? How does it appear in your mind?
Matt Goss: “Yeah, I’ve got a fairly good idea of everything that happened – how it unfolded and what the final few kilometres were like. I’ve got a good recollection of the finale as I was so focused on what I had to do and calculating what I thought was going to happen. I had to keep it together with those seven or eight guys until the final few hundred metres. I knew that, if I could do that, I’d have a really good shot at getting the win.
“I had to chase Fabian with just under two kilometres to go and then I knew straight away that either Gilbert or Pozzato was going to go, so I tried to cover them as well. I got onto the wheel of Pozzato and Ballan and let them do the chasing with about one-and-a-half kilometres to go and they got it all back together just in time for the finish.”
RIDE: If Gilbert hadn’t attacked on the Poggio and again in town, and then done the sprint, do you think he would have won it?
Matt Goss: “He was impressive but I was still confident that I could beat him in a sprint even if he didn’t go to the front once all day. His attack on the Poggio was pretty good but I never felt like I was in serious trouble at any time. I was able to ride across to the front group 500 metres from the top of the Poggio and, once I did that, I knew I had a pretty good chance.
“There was not really anyone in that lead group that worried me too much if it came to a sprint.”
RIDE: There was one moment when you followed a move and then swung off to the right of the road in the finale, until the actual finish, that was the only time we saw you at the front…
Matt Goss: “That sounds about right. I had to chase down Fabian and also reacted to Gilbert but that’s why I swung off and let someone else go to the front to do something. I wanted to retreat a little and keep an eye on everyone for the finish and cover any other moves if I had to. On the descent of the Poggio I was never further back than third or fourth wheel. I always made sure I was near the front but not on the front.”
RIDE: What was it like on the descent of the Poggio? Cancellara essentially won the race on that stretch of road in 2008. Is that the best descending you do – or are you taking some caution?
“We were pretty much full gas going down there. It was not far down that Marco Marcato crashed on one of the corners – and he was just behind me. That slowed Alessandro Ballan down but all of us were on the limit. The tyres were sliding and jolting across the road. At one point, the front end of my bike started to go out and make me uncomfortable but it gripped just in time and I held it up. But we were going hard!”
RIDE: It’s a dream scenario for your team’s bike supplier (at the time, it was Specialized and in the week leading up to the race, it had launched the new Venge frame that Goss used in Milan-San Remo… thus giving the US brand a victory for the new bike in its debut race). You must be McLaren’s pin-up boy. The timing of it is unbelievably good… Have they offered you a new car to thank you?
Matt Goss: “I’m not holding my breath for something like that. I don’t really think that they’ll be handing out too many of their cars – not even for a Milan-San Remo win. But I guess Specialized would be pretty happy and McLaren should be pleased too. They couldn’t have hoped for a better start really. [Note: Goss now drives a Ferrari and will race a Scott bike for Orica-GreenEdge in the 2013 edition.]
“It’s a nice bike. It’s a lot more responsive than the SL3 and it descends a little bit better. It’s fast and very aerodynamic and I really like the angles on it. It makes me more comfortable and powerful because of the position you can get into. It’s not contrived: that’s how it is. It’s not usually a good thing to get a new bike only a few days before a race never having used it before. But immediately, I felt very comfortable on it.”
RIDE: How’s the reaction been, do you now feel like the most sought after man? Do people at home appreciate what you’ve done?
Matt Goss: “I’ve certainly been talking to people a lot more than I did before the win. I had three interviews, at least, every night after the race for over a week. Every morning there was someone wanting to get me live on the radio… it’s been quite flat out to be honest. Every WorldTour race I’ve contested [until the Tour of Flanders], I’ve either taken out a stage or won the race.
“It’s all been going fairly well. I’m succeeding in every race I’ve done this year so I can’t really complain.”
RIDE: And all this success at the start of the year leads you to become the world’s number-one rider. How cool is that?
“It’s a great honour. There have been so many big-name riders who have done that but there’s a long way to go before the end of the season. At the moment I’m at the top but hopefully I can be consistent and keep picking up points through the season and still be there at the end of the year.”
– Interview by Rob Arnold
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