Goss sprints to victory in Al Wutayya

Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) took the race leader's red jersey at the Tour of Oman on Wednesday after making it into the decisive split on stage two and then winning the sprint in Al Wutayya with an impressive show of speed.

The Australian beat Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) on the slightly rising finish after 72 riders formed a front group following the short but steep climb mid-way through the 139.5km stage. Race organiser Eddy Merckx had predicted the climb would cause some problems and he was right. The peloton snapped into several groups on the climb and then the 60km to the finish became a pursuit match between the chase groups.

Stage one winner and race leader Theo Bos (Rabobank) was unable to get back up to the front group despite a concerted pursuit by his teammates and he finished 10:34 behind. With him were world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and most of the other sprinters.

A crash near the final turn affected the likes of Heinrich Haussler but Goss clearly has newfound confidence in his sprinting ability and won it well, leaving Bennati to reflect on yet another placing and leaving Leopard Trek still chasing their first-ever win.

Thanks to the time bonuses, Goss leads Bennati by four seconds, with Boasson Hagen at six seconds. Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD) is fourth overall at 10 seconds and Luca Paolini (Katusha) is fifth in the same time.

Goss on form

Goss was on great form in January when he won a stage at the Tour Down Under and finished a close second overall behind Cameron Meyer. He hasn't raced since then but quickly found his legs and proved he can climb and then win sprints.

"It was a tough day. The climb was really quite tough and the finish was difficult and slightly uphill too. But it’s nice to get another one," Goss said just after crossing the finish line.

"I didn't know how I was going to be. I had a bit of time off and I'd just been training but it doesn't take long for the speed to come back in the legs."

The 24-year-old Tasmanian explained that the riders were surprised by the steepness of the short climb. He described it as similar to Willunga Hill that often decides the Tour Down Under, but said it was twice as long.

The climb quickly shook out the 127-rider peloton, forming three groups on the road after a very descent. The early break of five riders, that included Mark Cassidy (An Post Sean Kelly), was swept up as the race exploded into life.

At one stage Boonen and Cavendish were in the second group but they were unable to catch the front group of 72 riders that surged clear. Race leader Theo Bos was one of the first to be dropped on the climb and he was in a third group but even the hard work of almost all the Rabobank team could not close the gap and bring the big-name sprinters back in contention.

"BMC were riding quite hard on the climb and Garmin too," Goss said.

"It was a tough climb and the guys were pushing the pace. After that it was a combination of a lot of teams riding hard. Leopard Trek rode, Sky rode and we did a bit too. We had one guy working and the others were keeping me out of the wind and then they did a perfect job coming into the finish."

Overall contender shake out

The climb and subsequent shake out in the peloton gave the first indication of who will go on to be an overall contender for overall victory on the uphill finish on stage four and the equally important stage five 18.5km time trial.

Goss is expected to crack on the 5.8km climb to the finish on Green Mountain, meaning Boasson Hagen is now the best placed overall contender as he gained four bonus seconds for third place.

Those precious seconds could be the difference between overall success and a place on the podium but Boasson Hagen is still optimistic after producing a good ride on only his second day of the 2011 season.

"Yesterday I started my sprint a little late and today it was a little early but I'm getting there," he told Cyclingnews. "I'm in a good position now and I've gained a few seconds. We'll take it day by day and hope it goes well."

The decisive uphill finish to Green Mountain is on Friday. Before that the riders face the longest stage of the race, a 208km loop that starts and finishes in the southern town of Sur.

The riders travel to the start by speed boat but will still have to leave their hotel at eight in the morning. They then face a 250km drive back to their hotel near Muscat, making for a long day of riding and traveling.

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Full Results
1Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad3:18:17
2Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard TrekRow 1 - Cell 2
3Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 2 - Cell 2
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISDRow 4 - Cell 2
6Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 5 - Cell 2
7Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana0:00:03
10Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISDRow 9 - Cell 2
11Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 10 - Cell 2
12Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team AstanaRow 13 - Cell 2
15Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 14 - Cell 2
16Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 15 - Cell 2
17Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 16 - Cell 2
18Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJRow 17 - Cell 2
19Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 18 - Cell 2
20Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 19 - Cell 2
21Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 20 - Cell 2
22Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 21 - Cell 2
23Tanel Kangert (Est) Pro Team AstanaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJRow 24 - Cell 2
26Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMCRow 26 - Cell 2
28Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 27 - Cell 2
29Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team AstanaRow 28 - Cell 2
30Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard TrekRow 29 - Cell 2
31Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Geox-TMCRow 30 - Cell 2
32Tomas Alberio (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 31 - Cell 2
33Marc De Maar (AHo) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre - ISDRow 33 - Cell 2
35Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard TrekRow 34 - Cell 2
36Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 35 - Cell 2
37Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-HighroadRow 36 - Cell 2
38Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 37 - Cell 2
39Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky ProcyclingRow 39 - Cell 2
41Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 40 - Cell 2
42Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJRow 41 - Cell 2
43Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 42 - Cell 2
44Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 43 - Cell 2
45Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 44 - Cell 2
46Marko Kump (Slo) Geox-TMCRow 45 - Cell 2
47Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 47 - Cell 2
49Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Geox-TMCRow 50 - Cell 2
52Ronan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 51 - Cell 2
53Daniele Ratto (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 52 - Cell 2
54Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 53 - Cell 2
55Mark Cassidy (Irl) An Post - Sean KellyRow 54 - Cell 2
56Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Russell Downing (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 56 - Cell 2
58Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 58 - Cell 2
60Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 59 - Cell 2
61David Gutierrez Gutierrez (Spa) Geox-TMCRow 60 - Cell 2
62Diego Caccia (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 61 - Cell 2
63Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 62 - Cell 2
64Joost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard TrekRow 63 - Cell 2
65Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-HighroadRow 64 - Cell 2
66Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 65 - Cell 2
67Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard TrekRow 66 - Cell 2
68Hayden Roulston (NZl) HTC-Highroad0:00:34
69Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:00:43
70Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad0:00:03
71Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek0:01:03
72Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:00:03
73Grégory Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:10:34
74Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Vitaliy Kondrut (Ukr) Lampre - ISDRow 74 - Cell 2
76Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 75 - Cell 2
77Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 76 - Cell 2
78Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 78 - Cell 2
80Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 79 - Cell 2
81Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-HighroadRow 81 - Cell 2
83Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 83 - Cell 2
85John Murphy (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
88Kevin Claeys (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 87 - Cell 2
89Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-HighroadRow 88 - Cell 2
90Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 89 - Cell 2
91Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
92Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 91 - Cell 2
93Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 92 - Cell 2
94Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 93 - Cell 2
95Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJRow 94 - Cell 2
96Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 95 - Cell 2
97Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 96 - Cell 2
98Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 97 - Cell 2
99Sam Bennett (Irl) An Post - Sean KellyRow 98 - Cell 2
100Maxim De Busschere (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 99 - Cell 2
101Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
102Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 101 - Cell 2
103Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard TrekRow 102 - Cell 2
104Mark McNally (GBr) An Post - Sean KellyRow 103 - Cell 2
105Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
106Martin Reimer (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 105 - Cell 2
107Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Leif Hoste (Bel) Katusha TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
111Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team AstanaRow 110 - Cell 2
112Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-HighroadRow 111 - Cell 2
113Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJRow 112 - Cell 2
114Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 113 - Cell 2
115Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJRow 114 - Cell 2
116Andrew Fenn (GBr) An Post - Sean KellyRow 115 - Cell 2
117Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJRow 116 - Cell 2
118Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 117 - Cell 2
119Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 118 - Cell 2
120Theo Bos (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 119 - Cell 2
121Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Roger Kluge (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 121 - Cell 2
123Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 122 - Cell 2
124Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 123 - Cell 2
125Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 124 - Cell 2
126Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard TrekRow 125 - Cell 2
127Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 126 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Climb, 81.0km
1Daniele Ratto (Ita) Geox-TMC3pts
2Mark Cassidy (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre - ISD1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Yiti, 103km
1Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli3pts
2Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISD2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tanel Kangert (Est) Pro Team Astana1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Points - al Wutayya, 139.0km
1Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad15pts
2Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling9Row 2 - Cell 3
4Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD1Row 9 - Cell 3
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Most combative rider
1Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
2Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISD
3Tanel Kangert (Est) Pro Team Astana
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Young rider
1Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad3:18:17
2Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 1 - Cell 2
3Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana0:00:03
4Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 4 - Cell 2
6Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 5 - Cell 2
7Tanel Kangert (Est) Pro Team AstanaRow 6 - Cell 2
8Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJRow 7 - Cell 2
9Tomas Alberio (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 8 - Cell 2
10Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 9 - Cell 2
11Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 10 - Cell 2
12Marko Kump (Slo) Geox-TMCRow 11 - Cell 2
13Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Ronan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Skil - ShimanoRow 13 - Cell 2
15Daniele Ratto (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 15 - Cell 2
17Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-HighroadRow 16 - Cell 2
18Grégory Joseph (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:10:34
19Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 18 - Cell 2
20Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 20 - Cell 2
22Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Kevin Claeys (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 22 - Cell 2
24Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 23 - Cell 2
25Sam Bennett (Irl) An Post - Sean KellyRow 24 - Cell 2
26Maxim De Busschere (Bel) An Post - Sean KellyRow 25 - Cell 2
27Mark McNally (GBr) An Post - Sean KellyRow 26 - Cell 2
28Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Martin Reimer (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 28 - Cell 2
30Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJRow 31 - Cell 2
33Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 32 - Cell 2
34Andrew Fenn (GBr) An Post - Sean KellyRow 33 - Cell 2
35Roger Kluge (Ger) Skil - ShimanoRow 34 - Cell 2
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Teams
1Lampre - ISD9:54:57
2Sky ProcyclingRow 1 - Cell 2
3Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 2 - Cell 2