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Matthew Goss (GreenEdge)
Goss cruises but left rueing "messy sprint"
Coming into the race Goss was one of a handful of sprinters with a genuine shot at victory. Having come 3rd in 2009 and with his form steadily improving the Australian told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race that he was confident of picking up his first win of the season.
The Australian WorldTour team were the first squad to take control of the race with team captain Stuart O'Grady marshalling the team on the early climbs. Their efforts were enough to splinter the peloton, and along with Sky - who were working for Mark Cavendish - they controlled the race before the first trip up the Kemmelberg.
Once the race eventually split on the second ascent of the climb Goss was strong enough to make the lead group and with Sebastian Langeveld the pair geared up the sprint. However with a tricky headwind, a crash and a number of riders in unfamiliar surroundings in the sprint and alleged punches thrown it became an unpredictable battle in the closing kilometre.
"It was a messy sprint but Gossy was cruising today," White told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"We saw on all the climbs that he was the 5th or 6th guy over the Kemmelberg, both times, so although the result is disappointing I'm really pleased with how the team rode today. They took race by the scruff of the neck and everything went right until 400 meters to go but that's sprinting."
"It was a messy sprint, and there were a few guys hitting each other. One rider punched a guy from Vacansoleil with 400 meters to go. Goss was sandwiched between Boasson Hagen and a guy from RadioShack so he was checked a couple of times. That was always going to be the way with a headwind sprint but the strongest guy won today."
Despite missing out on the win GreenEdge has had a strong month of racing. Wins in Tirreno and Milan-San Remo have been backed up with two stage wins and the overall in the Volta a Catalunya.
But with the Classics taking a slight breather White and his team can take a day off before turning their attention to the Three Days of de Panne and the Tour of Flanders. Goss will ride the Ronde but his role will be that of helper rather than leader.
A brutal new parcour is expected to shed any chance of a sprinter like Goss making the podium.
"I think Goss could have won on last year's Flanders course," White said.
"But this is a much harder race, it's a different race. There won't be any rest. In the old Flanders there was always time to come back but once you hit the climbs it's just continual climb after climb and it will splinter until you've got a group of three or four."