HTC-Highroad looking to sure up green jersey for Cavendish
By Jane Aubrey
HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss was aiming high in his Tour de France debut, the Milan-San Remo winner's eyes firmly fixed on "a jersey, whether it be yellow or green or white," on the Grand Boucle's opening days.
"We've had some success with Cav – he's been flying," Goss told Cyclingnews on the second rest day, summing up his experience to date. "I was a little bit disappointed not to get a stage win when I came second, but it has still been pretty successful for my first Tour."
Stage 1 saw Goss crash two kilometres out from the finish, the Australian however is non-committal as to whether the incident - one of many in the opening week caused by a nervous peloton - cost him a win. He finished the stage six seconds off the pace.
"I know I was feeling really good that day," he said. "I don't think I would have any answer to Cadel [Evans] or [Philippe] Gilbert. It would have been nice to have had a crack that day and maybe have been in that bunch there with Thor and work on something from there."
The bottom line is that Goss' ambitions were on the back foot from the outset, but he was just one second away from the white jersey for stage 2 and 3, and five seconds off the general classification lead until stage 4 when the Australian moved back over four minutes down in both competitions. Goss then finished second to Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen on stage 6. Close, but not close enough.
"There's a lot of what if's and could be's and maybe's - every rider and every team has them and it's just the way it works out," he shrugged.
All is not lost though, with today's 16th stage to Gap where the 2nd-category Col de Manse interrupts a parcours which climbs steadily all day, on Goss' radar.
"It's definitely going to be something that's on my limit or maybe just over it," he explained. "I'll give it everything I've got to get over it if I'm on a good day, hopefully I can be there at the finish line and have a crack at another stage win – I'd love to do that. It's going to be my last chance in the race so I'll definitely give it all I've got."
The 24-year-old's other important role is to be in the mix at the two sprints of the day, to keep points away from Mark Cavendish's closest rivals in the green jersey competition, Jose Rojas (Movistar) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
It could be argued that Cavendish has been the one sure thing of the Tour so far, with 'SuperManx' claiming four stage wins, but even with that Goss believes that none of the success would be possible without teamwork.
"Danny [Pate] and Lars [Bak] get on the front after 30-40km and bring back a break before the finish and leave the easy part up to us," he said. "I was saying the other day that it feels like we don't do anything, we just do a few hundred metres on the front and Cav does the last couple of hundred metres and those guys ride all day."
So does Goss think that it's time for Cavendish to finally break through for his first Tour green jersey win in Paris on Sunday?
"Rojas is always around the mark but a lot of the intermediate sprints now are before the climb so Cav should be able to pick up points in the intermediate sprint, there's definitely chances where the other guys can be there at the finish but I think they're going to be on Rojas' limit – maybe not Gilbert but he's 70-odd points down now."
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