Matt Goss: “We’re going to give it a real shot in stage three…”
Two sprint stages and two different winners. On the third stage of the 2012 Tour de France, will Matt Goss cross the line first? RIDE had a chat with Australia’s sprinting hope before the 197km stage to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
RIDE: You’re at the Tour for the second year in a row and this time you’re the team leader. Matt White says you’re in “perfect shape”, you feel like that?
Matt Goss: “Oh, I guess so and it’s good to know that he thinks that. I’ve definitely done everything right in the lead-up: I’ve trained hard, I’ve recovered well from the Giro, I’ve raced in Slovenia and had a good hit-out there and the legs are good, I think.
“We’ve got a great team to deliver the sprints.
“The first stages are going to be a little bit crazy as they always are at the Tour but if we’ve consistently up the front then, for sure, we can pop up and pull off a win.”
Is it nice to have the first Tour behind you? Does that make a difference?
Matt Goss: “Yeah, it is. The race itself is no harder than others that we do – the Giro, for example, has some harder parcours but it’s things that go on outside the race that make this event so much larger. It’s going to be a good few weeks I think.
“It is a different approach to be coming in as a leader – there’s a bit more pressure – but like I’ve said to everyone, the pressure doesn’t come from the media or friends and family, it comes from yourself.
“While the Tour is different to all other races and it’s the biggest one that we do, we’ve got to treat it like any other race.”
You generally have plenty of confidence but is there a hint of nervousness now?
Matt Goss: “Ah, nah… it’s different but I’m not nervous. I’ll probably get nervous with 400 meters to go on the race day but we’ve got plenty of time to think things through during the race and I know I’ve prepared well, I know the team is going well and the only thing I’m nervous about is trying to fulfil the goals that I have. I know I’ve done everything right to make that possible.”
We’ve seen you lying on the road after crashes a fair bit this year so how is your body? Is it still showing the effects of the accidents?
Matt Goss: “I had more crashes in the last two years than I’ve had in the first 10 years I’ve raced a bike.
“I found that the crash in the Giro didn’t so much knock me around but it just twisted everything a bit. But my body is definitely fine.
“I had a couple of touch-downs – like running in to the back of the team car at the Giro after a puncture which wasn’t the best thing to do. But I’ve had some time off, had plenty of massage and osteo work and I haven’t had any worries since leaving the Giro – no sickness, no illnesses which had plagued me a little at the beginning of the season. I had a couple of doses of antibiotics between Tirreno (in March) to Flanders (on 1 April) and that didn’t really help my Classics campaign. But everything has been smooth sailing since. I’ve got to make it through the first few days… and we’ll see how we go.”
Obviously some stages are better for you than others. Everyone is talking up stage one as a difficult finish but it seems as though it’s perfect for you…
Matt Goss: “We looked at stage three the other day (Wednesday) and we’ll look at stage one on Friday. From what I hear there is about two-and-a-half kilometers uphill; it’s a little bit steeper at the bottom and it kinda flattens out at the top. This can be good for me; the stage I run second in last year [in Liseux] was uphill near the end. And then a bit of flat at the top… so we’re going to give it a real shot.
“We’re going to give it a real shot in stage three – that’s a day that’s a little bit on my limit with the harder climb near the finish but we’re going to have a crack at the flat days and then we’ll have a few uphill ones that we’re going to try to get a result.”
Obviously, you’re still speaking with Cav. What do you discuss when you do get the time to catch up?
Matt Goss: “We actually talk about very similar things to what we did when we were team-mates. I haven’t had much of a chance to speak to him in Liege – just a brief g’day – but during the Giro we spoke pretty much every day. We’ve got a really good relationship with him and we had some good fun at the Giro. It was unfortunate that he crashed when he did [on the day Goss won the stage in Denmark]. On the first day there, he beat me by a fair bit but the second time around it was a little bit different and we have a good rivalry; there’s not hard feelings anywhere. We get along really well and it’s nice to have that.”
Is there any animosity because you, by nature of your role in the race, will have to spend a fair bit of time following him – or he follow you…?
Matt Goss: “Nah. Maybe there’ll be a bit more of him following us this year because we’ve got a pretty strong lead-out train here and he’s kind of come into the Tour with one of the weakest lead-outs he’s had in his Tour de France career.
“Maybe he’ll be my shadow for a while but hopefully we can keep him behind all the way to the line.”
How do you negate that? Do you have a plan to maybe put someone behind you to keep him off your wheel?
Matt Goss: “At this stage, we’re not going to. We’re going to race to deliver me to finish line. I think there’ll be enough chaos behind – there usually is – and it’s better to stay in front of it. But for now we’re not focussed on putting anyone behind me. It’s not fair to put someone like Albasini or Gerrans or Weening in behind when they can win stages in there own right.”
Interview by Rob Arnold
RIDE Media publishes both the Official Tour de France Guide (Australian Edition) as well as RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine all about cycling.
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This is the 10th year that RIDE Media has published the Official Tour Guide in Australia. You can find the summary of the 2011 team pages online.