At this point in the season riders are often pigeonholed into categories most befitting of their status. There are those that fit into the band of most promising, the up-and-comers if you will. There are those who are on the comeback trail and those that simply have a massive point to prove. Matt Goss sits squarely into the latter category and enters what he describes as a huge season in his career. After all it’s a career that has faded in recent years but as he tells Cyclingnews, the hunger to win is still there.
Having not won a race in almost two years and having fallen from the heady heights of cycling stardom since his Milan-San Remo win of 2011, Goss, who has signed at One Pro Cycling for 2016, has unquestionably the most important year of his career in front of him. Call it a cross roads, a last-chance saloon to prove that he is still an elite sprinter, the magnitude of the 29-year-old’s next season cannot be overlooked.
“It’s super important, next year, and I know that. I want to be winning bike races. The hunger is still there and the last thing that I want to be is just a number in the peloton. I’ve got no desire for that,” Goss tells Cyclingnews from his home in Australia.
“The hunger for me comes from wanting to win bike races and this is too hard a job to just pedal around, wear a number and take a hiding. I don’t want that."
Goss of course was in a similar position twelve months ago when he was released by the Orica-GreenEdge team after three years of service. He signed for MTN-Qhubeka on a one-year deal as part of a raft of sprinters who moved to the African team at the same time. However, the move failed to pay off and Goss, a year on, was once again surplus to the team’s requirements.
One Pro Cycling, the United Kingdom’s first Pro Continental team came calling and offered a lifeline. Goss has snatched the opportunity with both hands as he sets about a winter of training that will hopefully see him return to his best, and while his time at MTN was unsuccessful, he has decided not to dwell on the past.
“It was a bit of a change, going from a team like Orica where there was me and Matthews as sprinters. At MTN there was myself, Ciolek, Boasson Hagen and Farrar all trying to help out each other for the win. The first part of the year I was really trying to gain the confidence of my teammates,” he says.
“That worked to some degree but at times you need to put your hand up in bike races, especially when you think that you can do really well. I took a bit of a back seat and tried to help others win in the first part of the season but it was a big change to move teams. There were some unlucky crashes at bad times but I’m not going to dwell on that. That’s bike racing.
“I just want to get back to winning ways. It’s been a couple of years since I won a bike race. Every year in my career, up until a couple of years ago, I’ve won a bike race. It sucks to not win so I want to get back to that.”
It’s almost a mantra. “I want to get back” and one can imagine Goss mutters it to himself with each pedal stroke as he takes in long training rides during the winter.
“I want to get back to competing and being at the front of races. I feel confident that I can still do that and that I can be consistent and at the pointy end of bike races.”
Returning to his best is a lofty ambition. This of course is a rider who won Milan-Samo Remo in his mid-20s, and although the result was a huge surprise in the context of Classics winners, it has to be remembered that Goss was one of the most consistent winners in the months leading up to San Remo that year. Since that win the Australian has enjoyed fleeting success and whether that’s down to hunger and desire, luck or simply ever-improving competition, only Goss can save the situation.
“San Remo and those races didn’t happen over night,” he says in relation to his purple patch from 2011.
“I won big bike races before San Remo but it was all within an 18-month period when that happened. It’s not that San Remo came too early but I had no idea that I could even dream of winning a race like that when I started out. It took 18 months to get to that biggest win but I know that I’ve done it in the past and that with some baby steps along the way I know that I can get back to that. I’m still the same person, it’s just finding the right way to unlock that.
He knows the door he has to go through, he just needs to find the right key.