Game on for Australia's Goss

An interview with Matthew Goss, March 13, 2007

Team CSC's Matthew Goss is making steps into the top ranks of professional cycling at the young age of 21. The Australian battled the winds in Flanders to achieve a podium spot in semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, but as he explained to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown, wins are expected to come.

When Matthew Goss signed for Team CSC in the fall of 2006 he was a 19 year-old, but in 2007 the Denmark-based team let him learn the ropes alongside some of its big guns and the results are now showing. In the opening weekend of the Classics season, he made his mark with a third place in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

A strong Australian backing

Goss explained how he came from the Australian island state of Tasmania to the hard-man's in Europe's big single-day races. "The cycling community [in Tasmania] is not so big on professional road cycling," he stated. "It is good and it has become bigger thanks to the Tasmanian Institute of Sport and the Australian Institute of Sport; you get the chance to race nationally and then internationally with them."

Goss found the bike thanks to an injury while competing in Australian Rules football. The doctor told him riding would be the best way to heal his sore knee, but instead of sitting still on a stationary bike Goss started going out riding with his neighbour, who raced on the track. "For the most part I got my start racing on the track," noted Goss.

It was on the track in 2005 while riding with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport squad that Goss claimed an important track victory in the 3000 metre Latrobe wheelrace. Goss' victory at the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals event came a year after he claimed the Madison World Junior Title in America with Miles Olman.

With the list of strong results both on the road and track growing, Goss soon found himself racing with, another outfit, from its base in Northern Italy. "It was a good step for me; [] has a good programme for the young guys," explained Goss. "I did three months with that team, then, the next year I did five or six moths, and then 2006 was my first full season."

Goss took some wins along the way that boosted his status as a hardened sprinter. In 2005 he won in the Tour of Japan's first stage and in 2006 he took a handful of victories, that included stage wins in the Under 26 Giro d'Italia, Vuelta Ciclista a Navarra, Giro delle Regioni and GP Liberazione. In addition to the swag of road racing victories in 2006, Goss was also in the winning Teams Pursuit squad at the Australian Track Championships before going on to win the same event at the World Championships in France.

It wasn't until the following year, his first in Team CSC colours, that Goss made a mark on the professional scene by taking victory on the Tour of Britain's Stage 3 from a six-man break that included Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Roger Hammond (T-Mobile).

"The CSC team set-up and support is so much bigger and so much more professional," he noted. "Everything about the way things are done is very professional."

After joining Team CSC Goss moved his base from Varese, over the boarder in Italy, to Monaco. The harbour-side state of Monaco is a hotspot for the rich and famous, including professional athletes of all sorts including compatriot and MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner. "It is an easy place to live because it is nice and central," he explained. "There are a lot of other Australian guys there. My team-mates Stuart [O'Grady] and Bradley [McGee] are both there. Also there are Baden [Cooke], Mark Renshaw and Simon Gerrans - It is a good bunch."

The routes along the Mediterranean Sea make for good training for the emerging sprinter, with Goss able to combine flat coastal roads with mountain runs to the north. "There are easy days to be had on the coast, or you can turn left at any stage and go into the mountains, and it is awesome," explained Goss. "Plus there is always good weather."

Proving ground

Team CSC gave Goss a taste of the big one-day races in his first year in 2006, allowing him to ride along with the A-team in the Cyclassics Hamburg and Paris-Tours. This year, however, Goss is getting even more time along the likes of two-time World Champion Fabien Cancellara and compatriot Stuart O'Grady, both of whom are winners of the Paris-Roubaix.

"Last year, I did some of the big races, and I got a good taste, but it was probably good that I did a lot of smaller races as well," acknowledged Goss. "[The smaller races] allow you to be competitive and not get such a beating week after week; so that is good mentally because you can get the racing kilometres in the legs and see how the races work.

"Paris-Tour was a good race for me, it was the longest races that I had done," he continued. Goss finished both the French race and the Germany's Cyclassics Hamburg.

Over the winter the only part Goss changed in his training programme was the addition of more gym work. He headed back to Australia following Paris-Tours, using the Australian summer races to build for the ProTour-opener Tour Down Under and his return to Europe.

"I did pretty normally training this off-season, nothing too different, nothing too extreme," said Goss. "It is good that we had the Tour Down Under. We went there a week early and got in some good training as a team, and then the next week it was a lot of racing kilometres."

Chasing spring success

After attending Team CSC's early February training camp in California, USA, Goss returned to his base in Monaco. After returning to his European base, Goss focused on building his condition towards the windy, 193-kilometre race in Kuurne and the rest of spring.

"I like the races in Belgium...the Classic type of races - in the wind a lot and long days," he said. "That suits my style of racing and my body."

"It was good on [in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne]," added Goss. "I enjoyed that race and having to be on the ball all the time. And I think it was a pretty good result."

Quick Step dominated the day with all of its men, and it eventually set up the two-man winning move with its man, Steven De Jongh, and Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank). After wisely saving his strength with the remaining strong men of the race, Goss gave his all to get on the podium and that meant out-sprinting the sport's sprint super star Tom Boonen.

"Quick Step had the guys there and, certainly, if there was not one of its men up the road then the sprint would have been a controlled affair for Tom Boonen," admitted Goss. "I am sure that he was still going for it [third - ed.], but I am sure it would have been diffident if it was the sprint for the win."

The podium spot was a good indicator of the Australian's form, form that he hopes will hold true for late March and April. "I was pleased to have the legs in the finale and to be up there [in Kuurne]," said Goss. "I think it is a good start to the season. ... I felt strong at the finish; it was 200 kilometres. I hope that form keeps going."

Thanks to his performance last year, Goss is now in the bigger races more often with CSC's bigger-named riders. "O'Grady is always good to have around, he is so experience," said Goss. "Certainly, I listen when he tells me something. He is great to have at your side. He knows what he is doing as evident from his results.

"I hope to be helping him in Roubaix," he added. "I am on the preliminary roaster; I hope I get to go. My role would be to play support in the first 100 kilometres, getting bidons, whatever, and hopefully leaving those guys fresh and in the best position for the finale."

In addition to helping his team-mate achieve glory this spring, Goss is hoping to kick a few goals of his own. "My goals for the spring will be to get some good results, climbing up a couple of steps from last weekend with some wins in a couple of races," he said. "I would like to have at least one win - or two, or three - by July. Last year, I was just off the mark with a lot of thirds and fourths, so I hope that this year I can turn those into firsts and seconds.

"Just the experience from last year, of being able to sprint and position myself will help," he noted. "It was a big learning curve, because it is a lot different than spring in the amateur races."

Now back in Monaco, where he will fit gym workouts and motor-pacing into his training, Goss will return to racing with the Dwars door Vlaanderen on March 26.

Family and girlfriend following closely

Matthew Goss has his family following closely in Australia, but his girlfriend has also came over to see some of the action first hand. "I have a girlfriend who is over here for a while, she is probably bored right now, alone in Monaco," he joked.

Goss has a younger sister, who is not into cycling, but just like the rest of his family she has become familiar with all the races thanks to Goss' career. "There is no past cycling history in our family, but they are into it now," he said. "They know all the big races and make sure to know the results.

"They were there for the first time to see me racing at the Tour Down Under this January," he added. "I think they were proud of me out there racing in the Tour Down Under."

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