Not to be at Milan-San Remo
Aussie rules in season's opening Classic
Last Updated: 22/03/11 5:10pm
Goss: Emerged triumphant in San Remo
Team Sky were left empty-handed as Matthew Goss became the first Australian to win Milan-San Remo.
The HTC-Highroad rider sprinted to victory in the opening Classic of the season after he had worked his way into an elite front group of eight which broke clear in the closing stages.
Goss pounced in the final 150 metres to edge out Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), the winner of the 2008 race, and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Edvald Boasson Hagen was the first man home for Team Sky in 30th, one minute and 44 seconds behind, after he was the team's only rider to make the front group following a series of race-defining crashes which had split the peloton in two with just under 80 kilometres remaining.
Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Juan Antonio Flecha, Michael Rogers and Thomas Löfkvist all came home in the main pack, 5:23 adrift of Goss, with Ian Stannard and Kurt-Asle Arvesen at 6:10 and 9:32 respectively.
Out on his own
"There was a big split around Le Mànie after a couple of crashes," confirmed Team Sky's Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist. "There had also been one beforehand which had left Kurt[-Asle Arvesen] a little bit behind but he fought hard to get back with the group.
"After the main crash the front group got two minutes very quickly and it took a little while for information to filter through to everyone," explained Ljungqvist. "We had Edvald up there which was good but obviously it would have been better to have at least two or three more with him too.
"We thought about riding to try and get it back together but we heard from Edvald there were other guys on their own in that front group and there were also plenty of sprinters in the second group."
Boasson Hagen had pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico midway through the fifth stage as a precaution after complaining of Achilles pains and Ljungqvist added: "The good thing is the injury didn't affect him today. He's ridden close on 300 kilometres but at the end of the day he just didn't quite have the legs.
"For the rest of the guys, there's a little bit of frustration that we didn't have the team up there to help Edvald but that's bike racing and sometimes happens."
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 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), 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.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre) 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."