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Goss wins Milan-San Remo

By:
Barry Ryan

Australian bests 8-man group for biggest-ever win

Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) took victory in a thrilling edition of Milan-San Remo with an emphatic sprint finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino. The 24-year-old Australian had time to savour his win over Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) as he proved by far the quickest of the elite eight-man group that formed over the top of the Poggio.

While Goss’ rapid kick to the line will understandably grab the headlines, his stunning victory owed as much to his sangfroid in a frantic finale as it did to his pure speed in the finishing straight. As attack followed attack all the way from the summit of the Poggio down to the finish line in San Remo, Goss held his nerve and allowed the pre-race favourites to wear one another out in the streets of the Ligurian town.

“I really didn’t expect to win,” an emotional Goss said afterwards. “I just did what I needed to do. I managed to stay in front and even though I was without teammates, I managed myself well.”

An incident 2km from the line offered a perfect microcosm of Goss’ intelligent race: as Philippe Gilbert put in the fierce acceleration that marked his final throw of the dice for La Classicissima victory, it was Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) who led the chase, with Goss tucked comfortably on his wheel.

Indeed, time and again in the dramatic final 20km of racing, Goss found himself in the right place at the right time, an oasis of calm in the chaos that surrounded him, as he quietly covered the moves without expending the kind of energy that might blunt his finishing sprint.

“In the finale, I looked to hold onto the wheels on the Poggio, because I knew it would be the decisive moment,” Goss said.

The sprint itself was chaotic, and lacking in organisation, with just eight riders left in contention after a white-knuckle descent of the Poggio, but again Goss was able to pick his way through the disarray. He marked Gilbert in the finishing straight, and when the Omega Pharma-Lotto man dived to follow Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Goss simply ghosted off his right hand shoulder.

The only real competition came from Fabian Cancellara on the other side of the road, but Goss had enough sparkle in his legs to hold off the fast-finishing Swiss and take a surprising but richly-merited victory.

“I was here to win, the team rode really well and I tried to finish that off, but I didn’t succeed,” Cancellara said. “I even tried to go alone but everyone was on my wheel. In the end I did one of the best sprints of my life, but Goss was unbeatable.”

Van Avermaet’s brave bid

As ever, there was drama aplenty on the capi that punctuate the run-in to San Remo, but unlike in recent years, it was more than a mere sideshow to the inevitable sprint finish. With the peloton already split by a crash before the climb of Le Manie 90km from the line, and with sprint favourites of the calibre of Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) chasing behind, the non-sprinters in front knew that they would never have a better chance of upsetting the odds.

The BMC and Omega Pharma-Lotto teams drove the 44-man leading group as it hit the Capo Mele with 52km to go, as they sought to hammer home their two-minute advantage over the Hushovd-Freire group behind. While those two squads were pulling in support of Alessandro Ballan and Philippe Gilbert, they were all too aware of the presence of fast men Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) in the group, and the secondary objective was to force the pace on the climbs in a bid to dislodge them.

Boonen betrayed obvious signs of suffering on the Capo Berta, while Petacchi was clearly not hopeful of victory – his own Lampre-ISD team were leading the chase behind in support of Michele Scarponi.

Thanks to that impetus, the gap was down to one minute on the penultimate climb of the Cipressa, and it was here that Scarponi struck, streaking clear of the chase group in a bold bid to bridge to the leaders. Remarkably, the Italian would do just that, catching hold of the coattails of the front group after the descent of the Cipressa, and then play a forceful role in the combustible finale.

Meanwhile, on the Cipressa, Alessandro Ballan had put in his first tentative dig, which saw Yoann Offredo (FDJ) and Gilbert respond. Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack) was next to try his luck, and he led over the Cipressa before being caught at the top of the descent.

Indeed, it was on the way down that the real damage was done, and the most dangerous move of the closing stages took shape. The FDJ tandem of Steve Chainel and Offredo surged clear in what was surely a premeditated attack, and they brought Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and the wily Stuart O’Grady (Leopard Trek) with them.

The quartet worked seamlessly together, quickly opening a 30-second lead. Chainel was burying himself in the service of the stylish Offredo, while the favourites hesitated behind and ultimately the chase fell to Omega Pharma-Lotto, with André Greipel sacrificing himself for Gilbert.

Those efforts would ultimately play against Gilbert’s chances. “When those four went clear, everybody expected our team to do the work, and that cost us dearly,” he said at the finish.

At the foot of the Poggio, 10km from home, the gap was still stable, but the break’s unity was fractured on the climb. Van Avermaet forced his way clear of the break two kilometres from the top, cleverly attacking as Offredo was caught on O’Grady’s wheel, while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) opened the hostilities behind.

The Sicilian launched two accelerations: on the first one, he had Gilbert and Ballan for company, but the second time around, he simply cruised clear and made it across to Offredo and O’Grady, dragging them towards the summit. Up ahead, Van Avermaet was still holding tough, and had a 12-second lead at the top, but further down the climb, the remnants of the 44-man split were scattered all over the Poggio, with Haussler, Petacchi and Boonen all bidding farewell to their dreams of victory.

Gilbert, Cancellara, Goss, Pozzato, Ballan and Scarponi managed to bridge to Nibali and Offredo over the top of the Poggio, while Van Avermaet continued to plough a lone furrow in the lead. The plucky Belgian looked to have a winning margin as he began the descent, but then Cancellara simply took matters into his own hands.

The Swiss rider made mincemeat of Van Avermaet’s advantage and dragged the chasers back into contention, with the race coming back together by the time the road flattened out in the streets of San Remo. Even at this point, Offredo, Gilbert and Nibali refused to give up the ghost as they attacked in turn, but ultimately their efforts served only to lead out the sprint, where the canny Goss had too much in reserve for a clearly disappointed Cancellara.

Early drama on Le Manie

Long before the tense closing 20km, there was an emotional beginning to Milan-San Remo. Japanese champion Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) was the centre of attention at the sign on in the shadow of the imposing Castello Sforzesco, as the peloton paid their respects to the victims of the recent earthquake in Japan. Shortly afterwards, once the bunch had rolled out of Milan in pleasant spring conditions, Miyazawa was off the front looking to pay a tribute of his own.

He attacked 12km into the race with the classy Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) for company. Once they went clear, the peloton settled down to a steady pace behind, as the race took on its natural rhythm, ticking off the familiar towns on the well-worn road through Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria to San Remo.

By Voghera (60km), they had a lead of 12:30, which then stabilised around the ten-minute mark for the next hour or so, as the quartet left the northern Italian plain behind and headed for the rugged terrain near the coast.

After tackling the Passo Turchino, La Primavera’s first major test, the gap between the peloton and the break began to tumble accordingly. By the time they reached Le Manie, with 90km to race, their lead was under two minutes and the break would fragment on the slopes of the climb, as Ignatiev and De Marchi forged clear.

However, the real drama was to come behind. A crash in the peloton just before the start of Le Manie saw world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) take a tumble and get caught behind. The touch paper was lit as news of the Norwegian’s misfortune spread through the bunch, and when Oscar Freire (Rabobank) came a cropper on the subsequent descent, the pace rocketed still higher at the head of the peloton.

Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC grabbed a hold of the race and dragged an elite 44-man group clear off the descent of Le Manie, while there was chaos behind as the bunch split into four separate groups. In the confused moments that followed while Hushovd, Freire, Farrar and Mark Cavendish sought to organise themselves and the chase behind, the lead group managed to stretch out a two-minute lead and the dynamic of the race was altered completely.

A number of pre-race favourites were all but eliminated from contention here, but their absence from the front end in the finale did nothing to detract from what was a gripping race. But ironically, while Gilbert, Nibali and company happily combined to rid themselves of the sprinters over the next 90km, their efforts would ultimately set up the race to perfection for one of the fastest men in the bunch.

Like so many others, Matthew Goss has lived in the shadow of his leader Mark Cavendish’s sprint dominance in recent times, but after this fine victory on the Riviera, the Australian has heralded his own definitive arrival at sprinting’s top table.

Full Results
1 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 6:51:10  
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek    
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha Team    
6 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
7 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ    
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:03  
9 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10  
10 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek 0:00:12  
11 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:27  
12 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
13 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek    
14 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
15 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
16 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ    
17 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale    
18 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
19 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
20 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team    
21 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard    
22 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
23 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack    
24 Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
25 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:00:32  
26 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:33  
27 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha Team 0:01:06  
28 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:12  
29 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
30 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:01:44  
31 Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ 0:01:47  
32 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:55  
33 André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:03:59  
34 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
35 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:05:14  
36 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team RadioShack 0:05:23  
37 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
38 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team    
39 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
40 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ    
41 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
42 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
43 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek    
44 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling    
45 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team    
46 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
47 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad    
48 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
49 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team RadioShack    
50 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
51 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team    
52 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad    
53 Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard    
54 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD    
55 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
56 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD    
57 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
58 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
59 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad    
60 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling    
61 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ    
62 Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
63 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
64 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team    
65 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
66 Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana    
67 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
68 David Gutierrez Gutierrez (Spa) Geox-TMC    
69 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
70 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard    
71 Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
72 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
73 Anders Lund (Den) Leopard Trek    
74 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team    
75 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
76 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling    
77 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
78 Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ    
79 Arkaitz Duran Aroca (Spa) Geox-TMC    
80 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ    
81 Adam Hansen (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
82 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
83 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling    
84 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team    
85 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
86 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling    
87 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Androni Giocattoli    
88 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team    
89 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team    
90 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
91 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana    
92 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
93 Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
94 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
95 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
96 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack    
97 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
98 Robert Wagner (Ger) Leopard Trek    
99 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
100 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:05:30  
101 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
102 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:06:10  
103 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team    
104 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
105 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
106 Luca Barla (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
107 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:08:29  
108 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:09:32  
109 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad    
110 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
111 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioShack    
112 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
113 Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad    
114 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
115 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
116 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team    
117 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ    
118 Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
119 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
120 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
121 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
122 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team    
123 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
124 Leif Hoste (Bel) Katusha Team    
125 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
126 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
127 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
128 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard    
129 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:09:38  
130 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:15:51  
131 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
132 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
133 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
134 Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
135 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
136 Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
137 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
138 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:18:25  
139 Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
140 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
141 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana    
142 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank Sungard    
143 Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
144 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
145 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Geox-TMC    
146 Allan Davis (Aus) Pro Team Astana    
147 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
148 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
149 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek    
150 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
151 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
152 Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
153 Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
154 Michael Morkov (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
155 Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
156 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
DNF Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Claudio Corioni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Simone Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Fabio Taborre (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Giairo Ermeti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Luca Solari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Antonio Santoro (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
DNF Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
DNF Andrea Noe (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
DNF Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
DNF Diego Caccia (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli    
DNF Matthias Brandle (Aut) Geox-TMC    
DNF David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC    
DNF Fabio Felline (Ita) Geox-TMC    
DNF Marko Kump (Slo) Geox-TMC    
DNF Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Geox-TMC    
DNF Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team    
DNF Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team    
DNF Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Marco Bandiera (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team    
DNF David Tanner (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
DNF Robert Hunter (RSA) Team RadioShack    
DNF Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Por) Team RadioShack    
DNF Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack