By winning stage 3 of Paris-Nice in the vineyard town of Nuits-St-Georges in Burgundy, Matt Goss took the yellow jersey that his team HTC-Highroad intends to have in Nice on the shoulders of either Tony Martin or Tejay van Garderen.
"The jersey is a bonus," said the Tasmanian Goss after hearing he'd taken over the general classification lead from Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team). "I came for a stage win, and it's terrific to get it. This is my first European victory this year." His last European victory came at the Pro Tour GP Plouay in August of 2010.
Tuesday's stage win came at the end of an incident-packed finale that took down Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) in a crash. Yoann Offredo (FDJ), Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Nikolas Maes (Quickstep Cycling Team) also went down in the last curve with 300 metres to go.
"The crash affected me a little bit but it didn't affect my result," said Goss. "I was two positions behind Sagan, and I saw him going out. As for the other riders, I didn't see (what happened) at all. A race is always as dangerous as bike riders make it. Today's road at the end wasn't so bad, but some guys went too fast."
Sagan's back wheel slipped out in a curve near the end as his teammate Valerio Agnoli delivered him into fourth position with 300 metres to go.
"It looks like [Heinrich] Haussler was finishing a bit quicker than me, but I didn't bother where he was in the sprint, I was just concerned about going to the finishing line," said Goss, whose non-European wins of the year include the Jayco Bay Crits series, the Cancer Council Classic and stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia, as well as stage 2 at the Tour of Oman.
"I have no specific number of wins I want to get for this year but I also have no limit," he said. "(With) Andre Greipel leaving the team, it takes a lot of wins away. I don't pretend to replace him with the same number of wins, but I'll take as much as I can.
"My season will be as long as last year because I plan to race the world championship in Denmark. I'll take a break after Paris-Roubaix, and hopefully I'll ride the Tour de France, which is one of the races I haven't done yet. Going for the win at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix is a big call, it'll only be the second time I'll take part in these Classics but Gent-Wevelgem is definitely a race I can win, I've already come in third."
His first Classic of the year will be Milan-San Remo next week. "It all depends on the race," he said. "If (Mark) Cavendish is at the front, I'll probably help him, if not, I'll race for myself."