PARIS (AFP) ─ Australian Matthew Goss says he won’t be satisfied with anything less than a top-10 finish in the tough Paris-Roubaix classic on Sunday.
The Tasmanian all-rounder is enjoying his best season to date, having followed up a strong showing at the Tour Down Under with victories in the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice and, notably, Milan-San Remo.
Despite finishing outside the time limit in last year’s “Hell of the North,” a year on the 24-year-old from Launceston believes he has the ability to finish with the best.
“I’d love to finish inside the top 10 here, I really want a good result,” Goss told AFP Saturday.
“We’ve got a good team here so I think we can expect a good result.”
In 2007 another Australian, Stuart O’Grady, made history by becoming the first cyclist from Down Under to win Paris-Roubaix.
And although Goss wouldn’t mind a similar result in a race he seems particularly well suited to, he knows it won’t be easy.
There are bigger contenders like defending champion Fabian Cancellara, three-time champion Tom Boonen and world champion Thor Hushovd, who was runner-up last year.
Then there are the 51.5km of cobblestones, spread over 27 sections of the course and the accumulation of which really grind the peloton down.
“It’s so relentless, it’s just section after section and 51.5 km is a long time to spend on those roads,” added Goss.
“The first couple you don’t think are so bad, but if you did those same sections at the end of the race you would think they’re the worst sections.”
Although still sounding stuffed up, Goss claims he is now over the cold and flu-like symptoms he suffered last week and, having trained on the cobbles midweek, is ready to fly over the stones.
“They (cobbles) don’t get any softer! But we got a chance to test the equipment on the course, everything feels pretty good and I’m feeling better than I did last week,” he said.
“I guess they’re not in as good a condition as the cobbles in other races we do. I suppose these roads aren’t used as much either.”
Goss is HTC-Highroad’s co-leader for the race alongside experienced Austrian Bernhard Eisel, whose best result in the race was fifth in 2006, won by Cancellara, while he raced with Francaise des Jeux.
HTC’s sprint specialist Mark Cavendish, who will make his debut, believes they can both realistically stake their claim for a win.
“Gossy can go well,” said Cavendish. “He won San Remo, he’s got incredible form. In training the other day he went really well, so did Bernie (Eisel).
“We should have a really good shot.”