Australian emerges to take silver in Copenhagen
Matt Goss arrived at the UCI World Championships road race with question marks over his form but he proved to be Mark Cavendish's closest challenger in the finishing sprint in Copenhagen.
The Australian's Worlds preparations were dealt a severe blow when he was forced out of the Vuelta a España on the opening road stage due to illness, but he admitted afterwards that missing out on the Spanish race might ultimately have played to his advantage.
"It wasn't ideal preparation having to pull out of the Vuelta, that's for sure, but at the same time it might have been a blessing in disguise because it was pretty hard this year," Goss said.
Instead of slogging it out in a Vuelta marked by sweltering temperatures and soaring speeds, Goss was able to able to intersperse training and racing in September, with the contentious Giro di Padania forming the core of his build-up to the Worlds. The Milan-San Remo winner admitted that even on the morning of the race, he was unsure if he had the legs to lead the Australian charge in the finale.
"I trained pretty well and raced okay but when I came in here I wasn't really 100 per cent sure," he said. "After about 150, 160 kilometres today, I noticed my legs starting to feel better and better. That's when I said to the guys that I felt I could do a good result and asked for their support, and they were awesome to help me. Around the 160km mark, I knew I could finish off the race well."
While Great Britain, and Bradley Wiggins in particular, marshalled affairs in the closing laps of the race, the Australians took charge as planned in the final kilometres, even if Oscar Freire (Spain) and Peter Sagan (Slovakia) attempted to infiltrate their train.
"It was part of our plan from the start to get myself, Mat Hayman, O'Grady and Heinrich to come out of that last corner in the first four positions, but as we got through the race, we thought that might not be enough riders to get to the line, so we had to let a few riders get in between us in the last kilometre for the last corner," he said.
Ultimately, it was the impressive Heinrich Haussler who led out the sprint on the final drag up to the finish. Cavendish managed to squeeze through on the right hand side of the road, however, and though Goss finished strongly to close the gap to his HTC-Highroad teammate, he was unable to get back on terms.
"The Aussie guys did an awesome job today," he said. "They looked after me all day they covered moves that were away. They rode like a seasoned professional team and put me in the perfect position where I had to be."
Goss moves to GreenEdge for the 2012 season, where one of main objectives will be to reverse to Sunday's result at the London Olympics. "The Worlds will be quite difficult next year, so I'll head to the Olympics first and assess after that," he said. "That will be more of a goal next year. The course suits me quite well, so that will definitely be a big target."
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