Saturday, 19 March 2011

Goss continues fantastic form sprinting to victory in Milan-Sanremo

Australian Matthew Goss of the HTC-Highroad team claimed the biggest victory of his career to date as he sprinted to victory in Milan-Sanremo, the longest of the spring classics at 298Km.  Proving himself to be the strongest in an eight man finish following a thrilling series of attacks in a race that defied commentators to predict the result right to the end, Goss beat 2008 victor Cancellara and Belgian rider Phillipe Gilbert to take the win; a second for the HTC-Highroad team in just three years, following Mark Cavendish's success here in 2009.  

Earlier, Cavendish had described the "opera" that is the Milan-Sanremo.  With six climbs that build to a climax: a rapid decent into a flat coastal finish on the Italian Riviera, it is a race beloved for its dramatic test of endurance and preparation early in the season when legs are still fresh.  

Like many well loved races, here anything can, and indeed does, happen.  Sprinters teams have been foiled from time-to-time by a determined attack on the last hills. Good examples include Laurent Jalabert and Maurizio Fondriest escaping in 1995 and staying away to the finish. In 2003, Paolo Bettini attacked with several riders who all stayed away and in 2006 Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan attacked on the last hill and stayed away.

Today was no exception; Goss had been part of a select group of riders that had managed to stay at the front and leave the main chasing peloton behind around 70km from home.  Several other contenders, including Mark Cavendish, world champion Thor Hushovd and three-time winner Oscar Friere, were caught in the second group of a fractured peloton, forced to chase in vain for two hours.  

As the race headed into the final 8km, the attacks and counter-attacks came thick and fast, building to a dramatic finish that saw Goss make a decisive break as the line came into sight.  The calculated move paid off and the Austrailian rider notched up an impressive 8th win for the season so far.  

Known as one of five one-day classic 'monuments' in cycling alongside the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy, Milan-Sanremo comes ahead of the  Gent - Wevelgem next Sunday.  Starting Monday is the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, one of the oldest races in the UCI WorldTour Calender.  The seven day stage race will see riders carve out a route from  Lloret de Mar to Barcelona.

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