Matt Goss – Q&A
The new issue of RIDE Cycling Review includes coverage of the world championships from Denmark in September. The silver medallist in the men’s road race, Matt Goss, offers his take on how his event went and the feature concludes with his summary of the efforts of some of his Australian team-mates.
Earlier in the interview Goss referenced the impressive work done by Mathew Hayman and Simon Gerrans… alas, this was accidentally omitted from the review of the championships. He is a full transcript of the chat with ‘Gossie’ which doubles as an apology to both Hayman and Gerrans for the omission in RIDE #54 (volume 04, 2011).
Interview by Rob Arnold
Q. Second in the world, and really only by half a wheel. Did it feel like you were that close?
A. “It did. When you look at it you realise how close it was. I was kind of, not unhappy, but you know… it was a good day. The team rode awesome and to lose by that much was a bit frustrating, but at the same time it’s still second at the worlds. It’s an awesome result and I’m super happy with it.”
When did you realise it was time to go? What were you thinking, let’s say, from a kilometre out?
“Well, when we came around the last corner we always planned to have [Mathew] Hayman, Stuey [O’Grady], Heinrich [Haussler] and myself in the first four or five guys around there, and everyone did that perfectly. I did a little bit of jostling with Lars Boom who was just bashing away for some reason, and that took a bit of energy out of me, but the other guys delivered me perfectly to about 250 metres to go and Heinrich was still going strong. I kind of thought maybe there was a chance to go there and then. [Peter] Sagan was going to go but he eased off a little…
“With about 200 metres to race, I waited a little bit because 200 metres on an uphill at the end of 270 kilometre race feels like 400 metres on the flat. So I came around about 175m to go, but Cavendish had just jumped hard and was really starting to go fast on the right. So maybe we needed 10 more metres after the line to have the race finish further, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t work like that.”
It was rather nasty at the finish. It wasn’t like last year in Geelong, it was steeper. Is that right?
“Yeah, the hill was different to last year.
“In Geelong it went up in little steps after the streets crossed. This one [in Rudersdal] just got steeper and steeper until about 100 metres to go or 75 metres to go where it started to flatten back out a bit. It was a hard climb, but the hardest part about the sprint was the timing. It was uphill. And it also flattens on the top. After such a long race. You don’t know how the legs are going to hold up.
“Unlike Cavendish, I wasn’t wearing a skinsuit. I was wearing knicks and a jersey. I like some comfort for that distance. I like to carry food in my pockets. Look at the photos and you some some strange things happening in the sprint… for example, I don’t really know why Fabian [Cancellara] was sprinting on the top of the bars. He finished third not even a tyre width, if that. All it would have taken to probably beat [André] Greipel was to be down in the drops.”
Can you talk about the leadout from Heinrich. How did that work out?
“Sagan was in between us. Heinrich actually did a perfect job. Like I said earlier, we originally planned to have the four come around the corner and we thought that would be enough to get to the finish line. But, during the race we kind of discovered that that was quite a way to go, so we had to let a few people in here and there. I got knocked off the wheel a little bit. I should have been on Heinrich’s wheel and it might have been different, but Sagan got in between there. Heinrich went perfectly. When Sagan went to go I don’t think he had a lot left in the legs so he kind of moved across into me as Cavendish went past. I had to back it off a little to get around Sagan, but that didn’t matter too much.
“[Mathew] Hayman did the best job. He came around the corner and took us almost half way to the finish line. Then Stuey took over and it was long way still to go. Heinrich did a really good job to make sure I was in the best position… I was busy looking to see where everyone else was at that moment. But there’s not much I would have changed about it. That’s for sure.”
Mat Hayman seemed to police that situation so well. Beforehand, inside the final 10 kilometres – when all the escapees had been reeled in – it was Michael Rogers who brought everyone forward. And then Matt Hayman took over. Tell me about how he handles his role.
“Hayman is incredible. The job he’s been put in charge of is getting the team into position and then commanding how the leadout should work. It was a bit of a luxury to have him there doing all that for me really. He had to get there with about four or five guys, and we had nearly the whole team on the front. With three kilometres to go, everyone was there. We still had more people than we even hoped to have. Hayman really controlled it out of the corner and started the sprint perfectly. He didn’t sprint out of the corner and so it put everybody into the red. He just wound it up further and further towards the finish line until everyone was strung out and there was no one was really moving, they were just following the wheels they were on.”
It was a very fast race. Everyone was expecting to be sitting up until about 1.00am in Australia, but it was over by half past midnight, presentation and all…
“I don’t think anyone expected the race to be over in less than six hours, that’s for sure. Not many races of 270 kilometre bike races don’t last six hours.”
Did it feel like that all day? Or were there moments when it just felt like you were riding on good roads?
“It was definitely always nice roads. I think that was a key factor in the why the race was so fast. But the race was fast all day. From the attacking early on, we were at the circuit before we even realised we had done 20 or 30 kilometres. We were doing a lap of the circuit and I didn’t even notice. The moves went. The breakaway was riding fast. The bunch was riding fast. Every lap around, at the little hill at the back of the circuit, there was a bunch 10 or 15 guys going. The peloton was chasing something all day.”
That makes for a great race. It’s what you want in a world championship, isn’t it?
“Yeah, exactly. It’s supposed to be entertaining, and I’m pretty sure the race would have been interesting to watch.”
I’m curious about the road furniture. Geelong seemed to make such a good effort to get rid of everything. How did you guys cope in the bunch when there were so many people and median strips on the course in Denmark?
“It wasn’t perfect in that respect, I don’t think. From the last couple of kilometres, they cut a fair bit out of the roundabout and they had taken all the furniture out there, but that piece of road from five kilometres to the roundabout had quite a bit of furniture. So there was a bit of dodging and weaving. I don’t think it brought anyone unstuck at the front of the race, but if you’ve got your head down in the middle of the bunch, it doesn’t take much to hit some of those things.”
Can we go through the eight others on the team and get your appraisal of them? Let’s start with Simon Clarke…
“Simon did exactly what we asked. We said that we wanted to have people in the breakaway, so we didn’t want to have to chase. We wanted to make the race as hard as possible to take the edge off the other sprinters. We said to follow moves at the start and both Simons – Clarke and Gerrans – did just that, and then for both Simons to really make the race difficult through that middle section and towards the end. I think I saw Simon Gerrans attack about 15 times, and then Clarke put himself in the right move which really helped to put the pressure on the English guys. Simon Clarke did everything we asked, for sure. And more.”
“Mick was following moves too during that 200+km part of the race. He put himself in some positions that put pressure on the English guys again, and then he was instrumental in getting the guys together in the leadout and towards the corner, which was the plan. We wanted him to bring us to the corner at the front of the bunch, and he couldn’t have done that better.”
Baden Cooke was impressive…
“Cooke was definitely really good, and one of the reasons I thought they should really have in the team was because last year in Australia I was having a bad day and he really supported me 100 per cent. Even when I was telling him not worry about me, he still rode in front of me. He still did everything to help. The year was more of the same. He looks after us in the wind. He kept everyone out of trouble. He rode on the front from five to go until about three to go. Then he blew, but he came right back up the side of the bunch and he was at the front again. He was really impressive – one of the strong guys on the team.”
“That was his first time on the national team and my first time racing with him. Except for in London, but my first time racing a world championships with him. For me, I know he was good, but to put in the commitment and the dedication to the team which he did in his first world championships… This was a course where he could have had a good result, and for him to completely lay it all on the line just to help me, to put his finish line at 100m to go… It really impressed me and I have a lot of appreciation for the work that he did.”
Stuey. Of course. He’s just the motor that guy, isn’t he?
“Yeah, he’s always a machine. His job was to be in front of Heinrich. Everybody kind of ended of doing two jobs. He was supposed to look after himself, and then be there in front of Heinrich and myself. In the end, he rode in front of me for pretty much 265km of the 266km race. Whether that was being in and out of wind or stopping for a pee or doing anything. So he did two jobs and did them both better that we could hope for.”
CJ. He did a really big effort at the end. What’s your take on that?
“There was a break up the road, and I think the break kind of dwindled down until he was the last one left still up there. He certainly kept the pressure up on the Poms. It was just that part. He also did a lot in the finish. He rode on the front after Baden Cooke with a couple of k’s to go. He was always helping out the team and always there to offer support. He was really another one of the key guys. Whether it was bringing bidons forward or attacking of the front He did it. Like I said, everyone did two jobs.”
And the last guy we haven’t spoken about is the Matt Goss. You know this Harley guy?
“He stuffed it up. [Laughs]… No, don’t write that.”
It’s nice that you can be so honest. I mean, you knew how to win Milan-San Remo. You were cool as can be. You shouldn’t have been, but somehow you were. And again this time. The thing is, you were beaten by Cavendish. Let’s talk about Matt Goss and Mark Cavendish simultaneously. You two have racing together for a couple of years now. Tell us about coming first and second in the worlds…
“I guess the guy I got beaten by wasn’t really a shit. He’s done alright. He’s picked up a few wins. So I can’t be too unhappy. Hopefully we can have a few more duels next year, and hopefully I can put the world champion’s jersey in second place a few times.”
It’s the perfect rivalry. He’s off to Sky, you’re going GreenEdge. That’s going to be a wonderful duel next year…
“It could be like another old English-Aussie rivalry. It’s going to be fun.”
It’s the perfect fit. And to finish first and second in the world championships… On the podium it looked really lovely. Cav was really nice with André. Can you give me a quick synopsis of the vibe on the podium?
“Oh, it was pretty good. I think all the stuff between Cav and André has been a lot more blown up than it really is. You saw in the Tour stage, Cav was the first person to congratulate André after the line. And André was one of the first to congratulate Cav in the worlds. I think it’s all a bit of media hype. They might not be best friends or going to dinner together, but they don’t hate each other or want to take each other out. That’s for sure.”
And you and Mark?
“Me and Mark get along really well. We’ve had a great relationship the last two years. It’s been a pleasure working with him. Working for him, and he helping me out in certain circumstances. We’ve had a great time together, and now we’ll have a great time racing against each other.”