Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Milan-Sanremo to Matthew Goss

In an exciting Milan-Sanremo, the 102nd edition, the race was won for the first time by an Australian, Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad). The 298 km race was completed in 6 hours, 51 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 43,486 Km/h and finished in a sprint. Second and third in same time were Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto). Goss' victory brings the total number of victories to 52 for foreign riders vs. 50 for Italians.

198 riders began the 298 km race from Piazza Castello in Milan to the Lungomare Italo Calvino in Sanremo.In the first row in the grid at the start the Japanese national champion Miyazawa (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) displayed a Japanese flag in memory of the victims of the earthquake.

Matthew Goss, 24, Cavendish's HTC Highroad team mate, is the first Tasmanian-make that the first non-European–to win the spring Classicissima.

"Super happy. I couldn't be happier, I would never have dreamed of finishing in front of Cancellara and Gilbert," said Goss, a Tasmanian from Launceston like Richie Porte, who in his first season last year wore the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia before finishing 7th overall.“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.”

Goss was supposed to be Cavendish's lead-out man in his team but when the group split following a crash involving about 20 riders (including Hushovd) 101 km from the finish on la Manie, he realized this was his day. On the descent, a few drops of rain wiped out Freire, who came off on a right-hand bend. At that point 44 riders remained in the front group, which included Goss, Ballan, Pozzato, Nibali, Cancellara, Gilbert, Boonen, Petacchi and Haussler; in the back group, world champion Hushovd, Freire, Italian champion Visconti, Scarponi, Farrar and Cavendish. And it lead to a battle on the Aurelia, a sort of team time trial across the two groups, since the distance between them reached as much as 2min 25sec.

In a race that is both extraordinarily beautiful and extraordinarily tough, and one which mixed up the usual hierarchy from the start, two scenes will be remembered above all: the incredible burst by Scarponi ((Lampre-ISD) on the Cipressa, in which he gained 1min 10sec on the front group and successfully bridged up to them just before the Poggio; and Nibali's attack on the Poggio, which gave him a 6-second lead on the front pack before he was caught on the descent-yes, on the descent–by Cancellara.

Of his effort to bridge on the Cipressa, Scarponi said, "I was very negligent in riding in the middle of the bunch on the Le Manie descent and so I found myself in the chase group. Pettachi, who was in the first group had no team mates with him so I decided that I had to use my energies trying to reach him and to give him my support: it was necessary to attack on Cipressa in a strong way, not allowing other riders to follow me. When I completed my chase, I talked to Alessandro and he told me that I was free to evaluate how to move on the Poggio. My energies were not so high, but I could follow the attacks and then I tried to surprise the opponents on the final straight".

The sprint after the Poggio descent was chaotic with just eight riders left in contention, 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, Goss simply went to the right and had the legs to take him to victory.

Top 10:
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

Watch the last 10 km of the Italian RAI broadcast, beginning with the ascent of the Poggio, here.

Photo of Scarponi: by Bettini

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