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.
|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|
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