Australian Matthew Goss of the HTC-Highroad team claimed the biggest victory of his career when he sprinted to victory in Milan-Sanremo, held over 298km, on Saturday.
Goss proved strongest in an eight-man finish following a thrilling finale which featured several attacks and counter-attacks. Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, the 2008 champion who rides for Leopard-Trek, was second with Belgian Philippe Gilbert of Omega-Pharma finishing third. Another Belgian, Greg Van Avermaet of BMC, had made a long break for home inside the final 8km but he was reeled in with just over 2km to race, after which several riders had a crack.
Gilbert, a stage winner in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, attacked inside the final 2km but couldn’t hold on to his small advantage and it came down to a final sprint. Italian Michele Scarponi of Lampre was first to make a bid for home, followed by Gilbert but Goss – the only real sprinter among the finishers – had the legs on all of them and came over the finish with his arms in the air in triumph.
Goss had been part of a select group of riders which had managed to stay at the front and leave the main chasing peloton behind around 70km from home. Several other contenders, including British sprinter Mark Cavendish, the winner in 2009, world champion Thor Hushovd and three-time winner Oscar Friere, were caught in the second group and were forced to chase in vain for two hours.
Tasmanian Goss won a stage at Paris-Nice almost two weeks ago, however this victory – his and Australia’s first on the race – trumps all his previous career wins. Milan-Sanremo was first held in 1907 and is one of five one-day classic ‘monuments’ in cycling.
1. Matthew Goss (AUS/HTC) 6 hr 51min 10sec
2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/LEO) same time
3. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/OLO) s.t.
4. Alessandro Ballan (ITA/BMC) s.t.
5. Filippo Pozzato (ITA/KAT) s.t.
6. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) s.t.
7. Yoann Offredo (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) at 03sec
9. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/OLO)
10. Stuart O’Grady (AUS/LEO)