Teammates stick to the plan for in-form Goss
For HTC-Highroad, today's win by Matthew Goss at the Santos Tour Down Under's opening stage was text book.
Having shared the control of the bunch with Team Sky over the three laps around the vinyards of the Barossa Valley at the back end of the race, all of the pre-stage hype seemed to be coming to fruition.
Australia's Goss went into today as the overwhelming favourite for general classification honours but was backing away just a little when it came to talk of him taking the opening honours telling Cyclingnews: "It's not going to be an easy day."
Goss finished a good half-wheel in front of two-time Tour Down Under winner Andre Greipel but getting to the finish provided the Australian with a nervous few seconds of racing.
"I saw Greipel behind me just as I started to sprint but I wasn't paying too much attention to that as I was just doing my own race so it worked out well," he said.
"I kinda had my worries. [Mark] Renshaw did a great job and he got me to about 250 metres to go but it was slightly uphill and it was a tough finish but I managed to hold up until the end."
Renshaw the man yet again for HTC-Highroad
With a reputation of being the best lead-out man in the business, Renshaw had his work cut out for him in Angaston with an earlier than anticipated dash for the line. While Mark Cavendish is usually the recipient of Renshaw's talents, today was the day for Goss.
HTC-Highroad's sports director Allan Peiper kept it short and sweet when reflecting on today's finish, telling Cyclingnews: "He's [Renshaw] the best. He's the best."
The man himself said that the chaos he encountered over the last kilometre was far from ideal.
"I'm a little bit disappointed because I had to go a long way out so I didn't really get to utilise the training that I've done," Renshaw explained.
"When I was on the front with 600m to go it was stall and wait, and then go as long as I can. So really it didn't quite have a big acceleration but I tried to go as long as I could. I don't know who jumped first but Gossy still had the legs to jump and beat them."
A different role for Cavendish
Given the amount of time Cavendish and Renshaw spend together each season, it was no surprise when the Australian was the one seen to be calming the 15-time stage winner of the Tour de France down post race.
Cavendish was pleading with his teammate: "I just want to be able to do something."
Renshaw told the clearly frustrated Manxman that everything would be alright and before long some insight was given to the conversation.
"I just want to be up there to help," Cavendish told Cyclingnews. "I can't really contribute anything at the minute. It's probably better for me at the moment just so I can get some form as long as we're getting the win. If we weren't winning I'd be disappointed.
"If I'm going to do anything I might even hinder it so it's better that I just sit out and let them all do it."
When word of the conversation got back to Peiper, he seemed quietly pleased.
"It's good for him – he's under pressure," Peiper said. "He sees the boys around him doing really good and for once it's not him in the limelight and he's not really doing so good. It's good for his motivation and I won't say it's a wake-up call but it's certainly good for him."
Cavendish finished in 62nd place for the stage but lost no time to his winning teammate. Peiper explained that while Cavendish had been working since December, a blistering performance like that we see in July or at Milan-San Remo just wasn't realistic in January.
"He's got a little bit of weight on but he's riding good and he's happy and I can see good results from Mark Cavendish coming," he predicted.
Peiper explained that what he was most pleased with was that Cavendish had put his hand up to play a supporting role for Goss at the Tour Down Under.
"I think it's fantastic for a guy like him that's won 15 stages of the Tour de France in the last three years and for him to turn around and say, ‘I'm coming here to ride for Gossy,' not many top champions would do something like that.
"I think it shows to Gossy that it can get turned around and the boys get motivation from that.
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