Goss counting on McEwen to help beat Cav
If Robbie McEwen's valuable advice about the Tour de France sprint finishes was ever going to come in handy for fellow Australian Matt Goss, then on Thursday could be the day.
Two days before an anticipated yellow jersey skirmish in the hilly Vosges region, stage five's 196.5 km ride from Rouen to Saint-Quentin is likely to host the penultimate bunch sprint finish of the first week of racing.
And after finishing third behind Mark Cavendish as the British sprint king opened his account Monday to win his 21st stage on the race, Orica-GreenEdge fast man Goss is looking to make amends.
McEwen, who retired recently, claimed the 10th of his 12 Tour de France stage wins at Saint-Quentin when he won stage four in 2006.
Now working as a consultant with the Australian outfit, his technical expertise, Goss hopes, could make the difference.
"If we know what's happening in the final kilometres, what the course is like, it's a huge advantage and Robbie's a perfectionist for that kind of stuff," Goss told AFP.
"We were on the bus at the Giro d'Italia this year and he rang up and told the directors about the finish he did there in 1999, where the wind was coming from, where there was a roundabout, how it turned right or left.
"He explained it in perfect detail and he hadn't been there for nearly 15 years.
"So Robbie's going to be a valuable asset for the team. He's somebody that, in terms of sprinting, can sit down with me after the races and talk about what I could do better and where I went wrong and really finetune everything."
For all-out speed on the flat finishes, so far Cavendish looks unbeatable.
The Team Sky rider is racing without a lead-out train – which helps him wind up the pace and potentially drop rivals heading into the final kilometre – because the team are committed to Bradley Wiggins' yellow jersey bid.
And he has lost four kilos to prepare for the hilly Olympic road race, leading to hopes from his rivals that he would simultaneously have less power.
Neither factor stopped him from using sublime bike-handling skills to jump from one train to another before beating German rival Andre Greipel by half a wheel length on stage two.
Goss and his team admit they are still working on creating the perfect lead-out for the Tasmanian, notably with Daryl Impey, Brett Lancaster and Baden Cooke.
But as they look for the secret recipe to beat the world's fastest man on two wheels, Cavendish will simply go about his business.
"He (Cavendish) has proved there why he is the No 1 in the world and why he has been the No 1 for a long time," Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford told AFP after Monday's win.
"He benefits from a sprint lead-out, there's no doubt. But he showed today he doesn't need one."