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Race leader Ben Swift (Sky) and Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) at the start line.
Australian sprinters crash during chaotic sprint
It was not a good day for the Australian fast men at the Amgen Tour of California, with three of the best finding the tarmac in the closing kilometres of the race in Modesto.
HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss was lucky to escape serious injury while avoiding Michael Matthews (Rabobank). In another incident, Baden Cooke was left with road rash on his upper left thigh after his crash while working to deliver JJ Haedo to the line.
Goss crossed the line in third place on stage two on Monday and had been hoping to improve on that on Tuesday in Modesto but instead found himself getting a little more up close and personal with the Californian crowds than he'd anticipated.
"There was a bit of confusion yesterday but I was feeling a lot better today and ready to give it a real crack, so it was certainly disappointing not to be able to have a crack at the sprint," the Australian explained to Cyclingnews. "I was right there until 800m to go."
Goss was just behind the jostle for position between Sky's Ben Swift in yellow and Rabobank's Michael Matthews. Eventual stage winner Greg Henderson claimed Matthews knocked Swift out of the leadout, something Goss confirmed.
"Those guys were having a little bit of a jostle between them and Matthews went down and I just tried to avoid him," he described. "I missed him [Matthews] but then I couldn't stop before the crowds so I hit the gutter and ended up on the footpath on top of a couple of people.
"I just thought I'd hang out and see the race from the side," Goss joked.
Matthews' frame broke in the crash while the rider himself was left battered and bruised with the team rating him only a 50-50 chance of making it to the start line for stage four.
"He is black and blue," said Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen. "We must wait and see how he comes through the night. Let us hope that this is not a setback for the remainder of this race, because ‘Bling' is making a good impression."
Matthews is currently trailing Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan by just six seconds in the young rider classification.
Goss meanwhile was comparatively unscathed, walking away with "a couple of tight spots and bruises." The Tasmanian's ‘lucky beard' however, won't be so lucky. It will be facing a difficult showdown with the razor ahead of tomorrow's fourth stage from Livermore to San Jose, although Goss promises it will return later in the week.