After three seasons at Orica-GreenEdge, Matt Goss will go back to sharing the role of sprinter in 2015 with his new teammates at MTN-Qhubeka. Goss may have fewer chances at success next season but he believes that the reduced responsibility can actually help him win more.
"Being in that shared role is a good environment in the races, because if someone isn't having a good day then you have someone else who can finish it off," he told Cyclingnews. "In 2010 and 2011 I wasn't the main sprinter there [at HTC-Colombia], I was probably third in line because I was racing with [Mark] Cavendish and [André] Greipel in the team. I took my opportunities when they arose and I managed to make the most of them."
Goss has been joined by fellow sprinters Theo Bos, Tyler Farrar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Gerald Ciolek and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. It is a lot of sprinting power in one team but Goss believes they will be able to divvy it up between them.
"It is a lot about having the respect for your teammates and being honest in yourself and how you're feeling. If we can all do that then we will all get opportunities and when you do get them then everyone is going to back you 100%," he said. "Everyone has got different stories but we've all got the same drive and motivation. We're all heading towards the same goals."
The last two years have been nothing less than frustrating for Goss as he has come agonisingly close to several big victories. The Australian has racked up an impressive number of second and third places in that time but few of those have been converted into actual wins. After ending this season with just one victory way back in January, Goss yearns for the years when he was laying claim to some of the biggest races on the calendar.
"I just want to get back to winning the races that I won before. I'm still the same person, I'm still the same body and I'm still the same bike rider. It's just getting things to work better than they have in the last 18 months," said Goss. "It's kind of frustrating when you do so many sprints and finish second or third, sometimes I think that it's better to sit back and really focus on specific days."
A fresh start
Goss' departure from Orica-GreenEdge was announced at the beginning of September and was quickly snapped up by the MTN-Qhubeka team. When Goss moved to the newly formed GreenEdge outfit it was after the collapse of the highly successful HTC-Colombia team. Along with his teammate Mark Renshaw, he had turned himself into one of the best lead-out riders in the peloton.
There was a lot of hype when the pair moved out of the shadows of Mark Cavendish looking for a chance at their own success. When asked at the start of 2012 if he was worried about coming up against Goss in the sprints, Cavendish said, "He's very fast and very clever, and he's resilient. He's like a little Tasmanian devil.
"Do I fear him? He's probably the only one I do fear, actually."
It started off promisingly for Goss with a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and - after a series of second places at the Tour of Turkey - the Giro d'Italia. He had a consistent start to the Tour de France, taking three top five placings in the first week, and was within touching distance of points classification leader Peter Sagan until a disqualification at an intermediate sprint saw him lose 30 points. He did eventually get his Tour de France stage win in 2013 but as in the team time trial rather than the sprint.
From there the successes dried out and the likes of Michael Matthews and Leigh Howard surpassed him in the pecking order at Orica-GreenEdge. "It's easy to sit down now and say I could have done things differently," he said. "I think I had about 9 or 10 podium finishes in the Grand Tours and just one win in the Giro. It was frustrating but you know your there. I think that’s where I made a few mistakes trying to do more and more to try and get those places changed. It’s tough but it’s not as bad as not getting results at all."
Goss is looking to start his year back at home in Australia, with a potential ride at the national championships on the cards followed by the Sun Tour. The team are still awaiting on wild card announcements, but Goss hopes to ride Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico before the all-important classics.
With several more riders to take the pressure in the sprints, Goss is happy to take a slightly different role at MTN. "I have done the big sprints at the Tour and at the Giro and I've not always been the fastest guy. I'm first to admit that Theo is someone that I would be happy to help in the bunch sprints, I think he's got the speed to take it to the best guys," said Goss.
"I'd like to focus on the slightly undulating, slightly longer races where I've had more success in the past. I'm going to take my opportunities in these races and try to win and get results, but also there is a chance to support a fantastic team."