While enjoying the sunny weather in Compiègne, many fans lined up on Saturday afternoon to get autographs from their cycling idols. Matt Goss’ (HTC-Highroad) recent win in Milan-San Remo meant that there was a sharp increase of interest in the signature of the Tasmanian rider, who showed up unshaven and sporting stylish sunglasses at the Paris-Roubaix team presentation.
Goss made his debut in the Hell of the North in 2009 when he finished 32nd, while he finished outside of the time cut last year. This year, the 24-year-old is expecting to do much better than those two previous results in Paris-Roubaix. His win in San Remo has clearly changed his mindset approaching such races. “Certainly, you come to these races with a different mindset now,” Goss said. “I'm not hoping to be at the front, I expect to be at the front.”
Then again, Goss didn't finish last week's Tour of Flanders but the fast Australian explained that illness played a major role in that off-day. “I've been sick for a week,” he said. “It's a hard balance between trying to keep training because you have to do these races, or sitting at home and recovering. I think that's gone now and I can bounce back to 100%.
“This week we've done some good training. We did about 120km on Wednesday, the course on Thursday, a little bit behind the car on Friday and an easy one today. Everything's been fine this week. We've got a good team so I think we can expect a good result.”
The Australian was clear about what that good result might be. “The first year I did it I was coming onto the vélodrome racing for the top 15,” Goss said. “I can't expect any less than that I'd love to finish inside the top-10 here.”
Riding on the cobbles is a specialty and while the Tour of Flanders had a mix of cobbles and climbs, Paris-Roubaix features nothing but pavé, 51.5km to be exact.
“It's a lot of time to spend on those roads,” Goss said. “The first section you think it's not so bad but you do the same until the end of the race and you think that they are the worst sections. It's just so relentless.”
Right after Flanders, the team started its build-up towards Paris-Roubaix, which included an 80km long reconnaissance of the course on Thursday.
“We rode from one section ahead of the Arenberg forest until the Carrefour de l'Arbre,” Goss said. “It's going to be quite difficult with the small roads after Arenberg. The extra section is going to make it tough. Maybe this year there might not be so many guys who come back after Arenberg.”
A win from Goss at the famous vélodrome in Roubaix would be unexpected, but it will be very interesting to see whether he can achieve his goal of battling for a result inside the top 15 at the Hell of the North.