Australian primed for Naples start
Sprint opportunities are few and far between in the 2013 Giro d'Italia but Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) is one of a number of fast men aiming to get off the mark with the opening pink jersey of the race in Naples on Saturday.
"It's going to be hectic and that's always the way when the first stage of the race is a road stage rather than a prologue," Goss said. "But I've got a really strong team here who could make a difference. In any case, it's one of the few flat stages in the race and we're definitely going to try win so we can take the jersey into the team time trial."
Most sprinters are glumly estimating just four or five guaranteed sprint finishes in this year's Giro but Goss's ability to survive climbs better than many of peers means that the Australian might have an additional chance or two to get a stage victory under his belt.
Stage 5 to Matera in the shadow of its famous Sassi, or caves, climbs sharply upwards in the finale and may see a number of the faster finishers jettisoned from the main peloton.
"It's hard to make the call now just looking at the profiles but there's a couple like stage five where I'll just have to push to the end and hope I can be up there in the front group and see what comes of it," Goss said. "There could be a couple of opportunities for me to pick up stage wins when maybe some of the other sprinters are out of contention."
Two of the best opportunities for the fast come in the final week of racing – stage 16 to Ivrea and the grand finale in Brescia on May 26. With no such carrot at the end of last year's Giro, Goss pulled out after two weeks in order to save himself for the Tour de France, but he said he was starting this Giro with the intention of finishing it.
"I'm here for the three weeks I think," Goss told Cyclingnews. "We'll see how it goes, it's something we'll assess as we go along. The Tour is obviously very important but at this point I think I'm going to do the full race. I'd say I'm 90 percent sure to finish the race."
By that late point in the race, of course, the sprint fraternity will doubtless be reduced in number, something which Goss believes is something of a double-edged sword. While the reduced opposition in theory increases his chances of winning, it also detracts from the peloton's motivation to reel in breakaways.
"If I've still got a couple of my lead-out guys with me in the final week, then for sure I'll keep going and make use of them," Goss said. "Some of the other sprinters might be gone home by then, too, so it's probably an opportunity to pick up a win, but then if I'm there by myself with no lead-out then there's probably not much point, especially if there aren't other sprinters left either."
- Giro d'Italia