Gerrans backs Goss for cycling classic

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    Defending champion Simon Gerrans has declared Matt Goss will be the main man for Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE in the Mian-Sanremo cycling classic.

    While it is an unusual call for last year’s winner to make, Gerrans is being pragmatic as the team aims on Sunday night (Australian time) for an Australian three-peat.

    In 2011 Goss became the first Australian to win the famous one-day race, the first classic of the professional cycling season.

    Gerrans makes the point that this is traditionally a sprinter’s race and it should normally suit Goss better than him.

    “The way I won last year is rare,” Gerrans said in a team statement.

    “Milan-Sanremo isn’t often won by a breakaway that forms in the closing kilometres of the race.

    “Obviously, it can happen and if it does, we know that I can win in that type of situation.

    “In that regard, we have a couple cards to play.

    “Our main card, our ace, is that we’ve got Gossy in great shape.”

    Goss has started the season much better than last year, when he was hampered by a knee injury.

    The Tasmanian was never able to return to the career-best form he showed in 2011, when he took out Milan-Sanremo and won the silver medal at the world road titles.

    Last week, Goss demonstrated he was on target for Milan-Sanremo by winning a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico race.

    It was his first win since May last year, when he took out a Giro d’Italia stage.

    “The team will line up with the plan to support Gossy and I will have a bit of free rein in the final,” Gerrans said.

    “That was our approach last year, too.”

    At 298km, the race known as La Primavera is the longest one-day event of the European professional season.

    Orica-GreenEDGE are sweating on Svein Tuft, who fell ill last week.

    If he does not come up in time, Jens Mouris will take his place.

    The Orica-GreenEDGE squad for Milan-Sanremo: Baden Cooke, Matt Goss, Simon Gerrans, Jens Keukeleire, Daryl Impey, Sebastian Langeveld, Stuart O’Grady, Svein Tuft, Jens Mouris (first reserve).

    © AAP 2017