Matt Goss’s strong second place behind his former team-mate Mark Cavendish in stage two of the Giro d’Italia continued a good couple of weeks for the Orica-GreenEDGE spearhead, despite a win eluding him.
As I write before stage three, a pancake flat 190km burn around Horsens, it’s possible that by the time you read this Goss will have earned a stage win. He certainly looks like his best form isn’t far away.
At last week’s Tour of Turkey, Goss managed second place in stages one, two, four, and six on his way to winning the points classification. He must be wondering if he accidentally ran over a black cat on a training ride, such has been his run of near misses.
Nevertheless, a strong second behind a resurgent Cavendish at the Giro suggests that with a bit of luck he will soon be stepping onto the top of the podium.
An in-form Goss is vital for Orica-GreenEDGE, with the squad for the Giro built around winning bunch sprints and lacking a general classification rider.
However, getting the squad’s leadout riders humming perfectly in tune may take some more practice, and competing for position with Cavendish’s powerful and well-drilled Sky team is anything but easy. The responsibility on the shoulders of Brett Lancaster is significant.
Goss is experienced enough not to need his hand held in the sprints, but good position in the last kilometres is absolutely vital, and he’s not the kind of rider who can ghost to the front from nowhere like Robbie McEwen.
It will be especially difficult with Cavendish back in winning form after a slow start to the season (by his own lofty standards). Cavendish spoke before the start of the Giro of his desire to win a stage while the race is in Denmark, where he won his rainbow jersey last September.
It didn’t take long. Unfortunately for his rivals, Cav is the sort of guy who gets really fired up by a win, so there’s probably a lot more where that came from.
With plenty of opportunities for the sprinters, there is also plenty of competition from the likes of Rabobank’s Mark Renshaw, Garmin-Barracuda’s Tyler Farrar, BMC’s Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney, and Lotto-Bellisol’s Andre Greipel, to start with.
This is the first grand tour of the year, and there will be no mucking around.
After stage three, there’s a rest day while the Giro transfers back to Italy. Leaving aside the question of what the Tour of Italy is doing spending three days a lazy 1500km away in Denmark, it will give the teams an opportunity to prepare for stage four’s team time trial.
If everything goes right, the team time trial is an opportunity for Orica-GreenEDGE to win its first grand tour stage. Otherwise it’s fingers crossed that Goss can take that extra step up.