Goss win sparks new hope

WHEN it was announced that Orica GreenEDGE would become Australia's first fully fledged ProTour cycling team from 2012 it was hardly a surprise that Matthew Goss was at the head of its shopping list.

The Launceston rider had enjoyed a stellar season in 2011 and was emerging as one of the most likely successors to Mark Cavendish as the top tour sprinter in the world.

Goss began that year at the head of a Tasmanian team he put together to try to win to the traditional season opening Bay Crits series in Geelong. It was an early year triumph for the Launceston rider, winning two of the four stages and the overall general classification.

He was quickly on a roll and in great form won the first stage and the points jersey at the Tour Down Under before finishing second overall.

But there was even more to come, with victory in the prestigious 298km spring classic race from Milan to San Remo at the beginning of the northern hemisphere road season before closing it with a courageous second in the World Championships in Denmark behind Cavendish.

The world was at his feet and so were the suitors. It was not hard for Goss to make the decision to be one of the initial members of GreenEDGE as his then team was due to fold and the financial incentive on offer was reported to be more than attractive - even though at the time he had not yet raced and won world silver in Copenhagen.

But with his signing came much expectation and while there has since been an individual stage win at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and membership of the famous GreenEDGE team time trial victory in last year's Tour de France, along with a more than reasonable list of other lesser achievements, for many the jury is still out on Goss.

After a late decision to participate in the recent Christmas Carnival criterium series at home yielded little from the two races in which he participated, the Goss of old appeared to be back when he dominated the second stage of this year's Bay Crits to win a bunch sprint finish in Geelong's Eastern Park on Friday.

It was the sort of result that will hearten team bosses and supporters alike who are no doubt looking to 2014 and the third and final year of his initial contract with GreenEDGE, as one which will be rich in results.

Yesterday's finish among a distanced peloton at Portarlington during stage three, can probably put to one side but there will be increased expectation today at Williamstown that perhaps 2011 can be repeated with a second stage win in the series to start another cracking year for Goss.

He has been named in the GreenEDGE team for the Tour Down Under but even its sport director Matt White has admitted that he is not sure what role he will expect of his main sprinter.

At the team announcement White was only prepared to say that the races in the first half of January would give some indication but it may not be until they were actually out on the road during the Tour that a decision would be made on the role of each rider.

Let's hope that Goss can provide the answers to everyone's questions in the way that he knows best. DAY OF DRAMA AS DURBRIDGE WINS THIRD ROUND, Page 60

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