After five second place finishes in eight starts, Matt Goss snagged the elusive win on the third stage of the Giro d'Italia. The win today marks second Giro stage win of the Australian sprinter's career.
"I'm really happy to win today to pay back the team for placing me perfectly," said Goss. "They worked incredibly hard for me all day."
Ahead of the sprint, the race followed a fairly predictable format with a six-rider break allowed up the road. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda), Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp), Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Martijn Keizer (Vancansoleil-DCM), Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) and Miguel Minguez (Euskateli-Euskadi) were not afforded the long leash the peloton gave yesterday's break. Instead, today's move never gained more than a four minute advantage. The field swallowed up Christensen, the sole survivor from the break, with 24 kilometers left to race.
"That was quite the dangerous breakaway," explained Sports Director Matt White. "We used Christian Meier and Jack Bobridge to control the break. It came back a bit quicker than we thought it would. The field was nervous because there were some strong riders in the move."
Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) once again launched a solo attack on the finishing circuits. The peloton never let the Dane out of their sight, and it was gruppo compatto at the 11 kilometer mark.
"For us, the last lap was the most important from a tactical perspective," said White. "We wanted to give Goss a stress-free ride until the closing kilometers."
Entering the final circuit lap, the teams with an interest in the sprint jostled for prime position while Orica-GreenEDGE patiently bided their time. Inside the last two kilometers, a five-rider Orica-GreenEDGE train moved up the left side of the peloton to place Goss into position.
"The final circuit was quite flat, but there was corner that went downhill from 1900 meters to 1700 meters," explained White. "The plan was to put five guys into that corner first. It didn't work out exactly like that, but the guys still managed to get to the front with the numbers needed at the right time. We knew we could only go once. If we didn't get the timing right, we would have gotten boxed in. It was way too fast of a sprint to surge for a second time."
With slightly more than 100 meters left to race, Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) deviated from his line on the straight run-in towards the finish. The move took out the front wheel of Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling) and left riders behind scrambling to avoid a massive pile-up. Race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC) was also involved in the incident.
Goss had opened his sprint before the 100 meter mark and was ahead of the spill. He took the stage win several wheel lengths ahead of JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) in second and Taylor Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) in third.
"I have been really close to a win in recent races," noted Goss. "To take my first win of the season here in our first Grand Tour is a fantastic feeling. I would like to dedicate this victory to the team."