Greipel out, Goss in.
There’s a new HTC-Highroad sprinter pushing Mark Cavendish and his name is Matthew Goss. With a stage win in the recent Tour Down Under and now a victory in Oman, the Tasmanian is the latest sprinter moving up roster fast. Brian Holm and Rolf Aldag have an eye for talent and fast twitch fiber.
Goss made the front group of 72 riders that went over the nasty climb Eddy Merckx threw at everyone mid-race, then Goss smoked Mr. Second Place Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
“It was a tough day. The climb was really quite tough and the finish was difficult and slightly uphill too. But it’s nice to get another one,” said Goss after the finish.
“I didn’t know how I was going to be. I had a bit of time off and I’d just been training but it doesn’t take long for the speed to come back in the legs.”
Yes, the action was fast and furious at the Big O in Oman. While the rest of the Middle East is in turmoil, there’s nothing like a well-organized stage race to calm the populace. Sultan Qaboos knows how to throw a bike party. No burning tires or angry rabble here.
The riders waved goodbye at The Wave (strange name) and everything was cool until the challenging climb split the race into three groups. From there is was a 60 kilometer chase and many never made the front again.
Yesterday’s winner and race leader Theo Bos finished 10:34 back. He wasn’t too bummed but he was certainly late. World champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and the majority of the fast men became spectators.
Goss didn’t find the climb particularly invigorating but he appreciated the results. “It was a tough climb and the guys were pushing the pace. After that it was a combination of a lot of teams riding hard. Leopard Trek rode, Sky rode and we did a bit too.” said Goss. “We had one guy working and the others were keeping me out of the wind and then they did a perfect job coming into the finish.”
Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) was in the mix till the end but a crash near the final turn cancelled his chances. Leopard-Trek’s motto is True Racing but a true win has yet to come with Bennati once again taking the second spot. Wait, spot, Leopard?
The bigger question is who has the best shot at overall victory. Right now, with the Green Mountain looming on Friday, the best guess is Sky’s Boasson Hagen. “I’m in a good position now and I’ve gained a few seconds. We’ll take it day by day and hope it goes well,” he said. The rider teammates nicknamed Eddy Junior had better consult with Eddy Senior for some advice on the Jabal Al Akhdhar climb. The
Cannibal did a pretty good job splitting the peloton today but he has more painful things in mind for Matthew Goss and Boasson Hagen.