Only one sprinter made it to San Remo and that was the sprinter that won.
Mark Cavendish was off the back somewhere wondering when his form will arrive. Last year, it was dental problems, this year it’s … the beard? Three time winner Oscar Freire crashed and never made the front. He’s known to fool people by hiding until it’s time to attack but he fooled nobody today.
The Garmin powerhouse of Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar were stuck in a chase group that gave up the chase. Positioning is everything in this classic and when the world champion crashed at the start of Le Manie, both he and Farrar were caught in the chaos.
The man with the allergies and bronchial problems, Alessandro Petacchi rode the race but made no impression whatsoever. His Lampre-ISD team threw their support behind a strong Michele Scarponi. Fellow Italian speedster Daniele Bennati was not a factor.
The Gorilla, André Greipel, sacrificed his chances to work for his teammate Gilbert. While Quick Step’s Tom Boonen watched his chances die on the Capo Berta. One after another, the fast men fell.
The only sprinter who bombed into San Remo with a bunch of classics hardmen was the dark horse, the fall back position, the plan B for HTC-Highroad. Matthew Harley Goss.
Well, Goss is no longer the second option because he just won himself a monument, La Classicissima, Milan Freakin’ San Remo. The Tasmanian out-kicked two of the most badass riders in the sport in Fabian Cancellara and Philippe Gilbert to take a stunning victory.
Not a bad days work, considering the seven hours in the saddle and 300 long hard and fast kilometers. It was quite a ride and an even bigger career boost. “I’m speechless. I’m absolutely stoked,” said Goss at the finish line.
The big guy looked stunned and out of place on the podium standing between Cancellara and Gilbert but he’ll get used to it. “I really didn’t expect to win,” said the Tasmanian rider. “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.” That would be a solid understatement.
The final kilometers were a punctuated by non-stop attacks by Nibali, Gilbert and Scarponi. But the biggest challenger for Goss was the Swiss time trial champion who showed off a surprising and impressive sprint.
“I was here to win, the team rode really well and I tried to finish that off, but I didn’t succeed,” Cancellara said. “I even tried to go alone but everyone was on my wheel. In the end I did one of the best sprints of my life, but Goss was unbeatable.”
Gilbert also came to win but felt once again that Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) was in part to blame for his lack of success. “At 2.5km from the finish I made a good move but my good friend Pozzato took me back. Why?” asked Gilbert.
“I still tried in the sprint after that but when I saw that Goss was with us, I knew it would be nearly impossible. Goss was too strong and had played the game perfectly.”
For his part, Pozzato insisted he rode a smart race tactically and if that meant chasing down Gilbert, well, that’s bike racing. “I paid a high price for the effort I put in trying to get back up to Gilbert in the last kilometre, but a few years ago, I was burned by Cancellara in a similar situation,” Pozzato told Tuttobici after the finish. “I knew that I was running a risk, but all told, that was my only way of trying to win San Remo.”
It’s good to be the only sprinter left in Milan San Remo. Especially with the finish line coming up fast. Matthre Goss might be “speechless” but not for long.