Aussie rules at Milan-San Remo
Cavendish's teammate lands the spoils for HTC
Last Updated: 19/03/11 9:02pm
Goss: Celebrates his win
Matthew Goss became the first Australian to win Milan-San Remo when sprinting to victory in the opening Classic of the season.
The HTC-Highroad rider battled into an elite front group of eight which broke clear in the closing stages and he pounced in the final 150 metres to edge out Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), the winner of the 2008 race.
The final step on the podium was filled by Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) as Goss continued his impressive run of form which has seen him finish second overall in the Tour Down Under and also take stage wins in the Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice.
The eight-rider group had pulled clear with just over two kilometres remaining as Cancellara led the charge to reel in BMC's Greg Van Avermaet.
The first rider to then commit on the home straight was Lampre's Michele Scarponi but nobody could live with the finishing pace of Goss.
Story of the race
One of the five prestigious 'Monuments' of cycling, Milan-San Remo is also the longest race in the calendar at 298 kilometres and this latest edition was packed full of drama.
A four-man break went clear after 12km and the quartet of Alessandro De Marchi (Androni), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) were allowed to build a lead of nearly 14 minutes.
That soon started to come down but the race was really shaped by a number of crashes in quick succession as the rain started to come down. The first of those came just before Le Mànie and involved world champion Thor Hushovd, while the second on the subsequent descent featured three-time Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire.
But it was the third with 77km remaining which decisively split the main peloton. It left Hushovd, Freire, Goss's HTC teammate Mark Cavendish and a number of other favourites to try and claw their way back into the race but when the gap between the two main groups went over the two minutes mark that task began to look impossible.
The front group of 44 were able to maintain their advantage but four riders - Van Avermaet, Steve Chainel (FDJ), Yohan Offredo (FDJ) and Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek) - jumped clear with 15km remaining.
Van Avermaet then launched a solo attack and was on his own over the Poggio summit with 6km remaining but as the field shredded in the closing stages he was caught with 2.5km left to set up a fascinating finish as eight riders surged clear.
Scarponi was the first to commit in the sprint but he was soon overhauled by Gilbert and Cancellara and it was Goss who timed his move to perfection as he waited until inside the final 200 metres before powering through for the biggest win of his career so far.
Speaking on local television afterwards Goss said: "I was feeling really good but I was the only one from the team in that front bunch so it was always going to be difficult.
"I just had to make sure I conserved every ounce of energy I could and wait until the right point to make my move.
"To get a win in the season's first Classic is fantastic - I'm absolutely stoked."