Matt Goss sprinted to second in Rymill Park at the People’s Choice Classic. Defending Champion André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) edged out Goss in the sprint in the criterium known as the prelude to Santos Tour Down Under. Greipel’s teammate, Greg Henderson, rounded out the podium.
“Second was the best result possible for the day,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Beating Greipel when he’s sprinting the way he did today with a lead out like the one his team performed would have been nearly impossible. With that in mind, I’m very happy with how the team rode.”
Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) and Zakkary Dempster (UNISA Australia) animated the early action. The duo went up the road from the gun and gained a maximum advantage of one minute during their 21 laps away from the bunch. Argos-Shimano and Lotto Belisol were largely responsible for the chase leading to their catch with nine laps left to race.
“We expected the little breakaway,” said Wilson. “It happens every year. The race typically ends in a bunch sprint. Our plan was to sit back and let other teams control the break. We wanted to hit the front with 1.5 kilometres to go.”
Other teams shared a similar approach, and there was a great deal of jostling for position as speeds approached 60 kilometres/hour during the closing laps of the Classic. Simon Gerrans led the effort to bring Goss towards the front.
“The team assessed the situation as they came towards the finish,” explained Wilson. “We lost a few riders in that last lap, and Greipel’s lead out train is the best in the world at the moment. Getting onto Greipel’s wheel became the best option, and the guys could see where Goss wanted to be. They left him to it.”
In the last half lap, Goss glued himself to Greipel’s wheel. As Greipel accelerated toward the line, only Goss could match his pace. The duo separated themselves from the field ahead of the line. Greipel maintained his advantage over Goss to take the win.
“Greipel was too strong for Goss today,” said Wilson. “It would have taken a bloody motorbike to get around him in the sprint.”
Although Greipel proved unbeatable today, Wilson believes the effort from the team bodes well for their Tour Down Under ambitions.
“We’ve seen today that Goss has good form coming into Down Under,” Wilson said. “We’re looking forward to the sprint stages.”