Milan Sanremo: Defending champion Gerrans says Orica GreenEdge’s main card is Matt Goss
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Milan Sanremo: Defending champion Gerrans says Orica GreenEdge’s main card is Matt Goss

by VeloNation Press at 1:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo
 
2012 winner gives himself a chance of winning, but says things will have to play out just right

Simon GerransSpeaking one year after he outsprinted Fabian Cancellara and Vincenzo Nibali for a superb Milan-Sanremo success, Simon Gerrans has said that he believes he has a chance of repeating the win, but that the team’s most realistic hopes rest with Matt Goss.

Goss, who triumphed in 2011, showed his speed recently when he won stage two of Tirreno Adriatico. It was his first success since victory on stage three of last year’s Giro d’Italia, ending a long drought and giving him an important psychological boost prior to tomorrow’s Classic.

“With Gossy’s Tirreno win late last week, he’s shown that he’s in fantastic shape at the moment,” Gerrans stated. “If the race comes down to a bunch sprint, which is the most likely scenario, he’ll be our man. The team will line up with the plan to support Gossy. I’ll have a bit of free rein in the final. That was our approach last year, too.”

Should Gerrans repeat, he would be the first rider to do so since the German Erik Zabel in 2000 and 2001. Thus far this year he hasn’t shown the same form as in 2012, yet he still gives himself a chance of clocking up another victory in Sanremo.

“The way I won last year is rare. Milan-Sanremo isn’t often won by a breakaway that forms in the closing kilometres of the race,” he explained. “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.”

The Australian WorldTour team had originally intended that Svein Tuft would be part of the team, the Canadian time trialist being able to provide some important horsepower. However he became ill during Tirreno-Adriatico and has had to cancel his plans to ride; instead, his place will be taken up by Jens Mouris.

The team will be bolstered by former Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady, Daryl Impey, past Tour de France green jersey victor Baden Cooke and Jens Keukeleire. Like many other squads, it wants to keep its cards close to its chest, although Gerrans did give some insight into the tactics that it could employ.

“We’ll use certain riders early in the race and save come guys for the likely sprint,” he stated. “Daryl Impey, for example, has proven to be Gossy’s most reliable last lead out man, so I imagine we’ll save him for the final.

“When I speak about the guys that we’ll use early, these are riders that probably will not finish the race. Their job is done before we reach the closing kilometres.”

Other teams have of course their own plans, goals and intentions, and an important strategy for Orica GreenEdge to adopt is to be able to change plans if the circumstances dictate. However the most important target is simple; protect Goss and Gerrans until the Poggio, then put them into the best possible position on that climb.

Of course, past winners have also included those who have gone clear much earlier in the race. However Gerrans suggested that he’d be very surprised if this proved to be the case tomorrow.

“This race is unique in that it’s the longest race of the season, but it does not typically truly unfold until the final ten kilometres,” he said. “It’s exciting for spectators because there’s no real sense of who is going to win until basically the end. The suspense lasts for seven hours.”

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