Each month, Pavé editors argue late into the night about riders and teams who have excelled in the previous month. February saw Rabobank and Robert Gesink take the honors, and earlier this week, we crowned Francaise des Jeux an unlikely but deserving Team of the Month.
For March, Pavé has decided that the rider most deserving of this award is HTC-Highroad’s Matthew Goss. The Australian sprinter entered March with a bang, winning the third stage of Paris-Nice and then claiming a magnificent victory at Milan-San Remo as the first Australian ever to win “la classica di Primavera”. Both victories were sprint wins, but become particularly impressive under closer examination and suggest that Goss is just starting to display an incredible amount of potential.
Goss’s victory at Stage Three of Paris-Nice almost never happened, however, with Liquigas’ Peter Sagan taking a tumble infront of him after the last corner. The Australian showed his superb bike-handling skills and weaved past the carnage and began his furious sprint to the line. What impressed us was the length of time that he was sprinting: far longer than any other rider present in the finale, but yet he was still able to achieve a formidable victory. Goss stated after the race that “the crash disrupted the sprint, but it was alright for me” – an impressive bit of nonchalance to cap off an even more impressive display of strength.
A few days later and Goss was en route to winning one of the most coveted races on the cycling calendar, Milan-San Remo. The winners of the gruelling 298km one-day race will be remembered with company such as Sean Kelly, Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi, so to say the race is prestigious is a definite understatement. Goss managed to place himself in a select group of ten riders that had formed a breakaway with just over 2km left in the race. After marking Cancellara’s initial attack at 2.2km, Goss was unable to match Gilbert’s acceleration and looked for assistance which was given by Pozzato, and Gilbert was drawn back to the group. Nibali’s attack was launched under ‘la flamme rouge’ but was quickly neutralised by FDJ’s Offredo, leaving Goss able to sit in fifth wheel ready for the sprint. And sprint he did. That a rider commonly considered to be a sprinter would be present in a select group of attackers that distanced themselves from the field in a race commonly considered to favor sprinters is an incredible feather in Goss’s cap.
After Goss’ outstanding performances, he claimed the top spot in the UCI World Tour rankings, which he still currently holds with a total of 203 points over Scarponi and Cancellara with 202 and 156 points respectively.
With April upon us, we see how months of pre-season culminate in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, ParisRoubaix, Amstel Gold, Liége-Bastogne-Liége and La Flèche Wallonne. So many exciting days of racing lay in wait. Who will emerge victorious?