Matt Goss will use former teammate turned rival Mark Cavendish’s own tactics against him in a bid to win the coveted green jersey at the Tour de France.
Goss was part of the HTC-Highroad team that last year aided Cavendish (Sky) to his maiden title and will use the knowledge from that to his advantage this summer.
The 25-year-old headlines the Australian-based Orica-GreenEdge team making its race debut at today’s 6.4km prologue in Liege, Belgium.
“I think working with Cavendish and HTC last year I saw the importance of having a super strong team and a super committed team,” Goss told journalists at a team press conference yesterday.
“I’ve learnt how to race every single day for the green jersey with Cav, I’ve learnt how to position myself. The guys here, probably most of them have more experience at the Tour de France than me so I can rely on these guys to do what we did for Cavendish in the past.”
Goss will also benefit from the wisdom of teammates in 2003 points champion Baden Cooke as well as four-time runner-up Stuart O’Grady who are both racing.
The intermediate sprints are now crucial to the points competition following a rule change introduced last season. That was perhaps demonstrated best when Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White signalled, tongue-in-cheek, to keep hush on tactics when Goss was asked how his team planned to tackle them.
“If you want to win the green jersey they’re going to be really important so I’ll definitely be going after the ones that are accessible,” he said.
“The team goal is to win a stage here and I think that should come first and foremost. I want to be consistent in all the sprints and by doing that then I should be up there in the green jersey.
“If I don’t win it this year it’s not the end of the world. Cavendish, he raced five Tours before he won his first last year so if I can gain a lot of experience going into next year then that’s a big plus but if I can come away and be right in the running or up there to win it, it’s going to be a dream start.
“I’m going to go after it just to gain that experience and to try and be there and be used to racing for it.”
To win a stage, let alone the green jersey, in its first year on the WorldTour circuit would be a massive coup for the Orica-GreenEdge ProTeam that has notched more than 10 victories so far this season. It would be an equally impressive feat from Goss in his first Tour as a team leader.
The Australian has, as expected, had a slower start to the season after a race heavy 2011 in which he won Milan-San Remo and silver at the road world championships. But the Giro d’Italia stage winner has settled into his new position in a new lead-out train that includes Cooke, Daryl Impey and Brett Lancaster at the Tour.
Goss’s advantage in the battle for the green jersey is that he is competitive in both flat finishes and even more so undulating terrain unlike some rivals.
“It’s been a bit of a trial over the six months to get the lead-out working right and, for me, I didn’t start doing any sprints until (the Tour of) Turkey. We’ve really worked hard from then until now to get the best lead-out,” he said.
“I think that’s what you saw last year, when you’ve got a super strong team everyone just lines up behind you. I’ve learnt that if we can come here with a team like we have, it’s something that can work and you get shown respect and you get that easier ride.”