With the 2009 winner and the most successful sprinter of the 2011 season, HTC-Highroad will enter Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, the first of the spring classics, with two viable options.
Though his season has been a series of fits and starts, including several crashes and botched lead-outs, an on-form Mark Cavendish remains the most dominant sprinter in professional cycling. His come-from-behind win at San Remo in 2009, ahead of Heinrich Haussler, was the biggest win of his career; he’s since won 11 Tour de France stages. Cavendish was shut out of a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico, however, and has won only won race this year, at the Tour of Oman.
“Mark has already won this race and he’ll be our leader;” said HTC-Highroad sports director Valerio Piva. “He’s motivated, physically he’s in pretty much the same condition as when he won it in 2009. We’re sure he’ll give it 100 percent.”
On the other side of the coin, Goss has only raced La Primavera once, in 2010, and did not finish. He remains unproven over a distance such as Milan-San Remo, which covers 298km — the longest race of the season. However Goss leads pro cycling with eight wins in 2011, including a stage of Paris-Nice last week.
“We also have Matt Goss, and we have a good support team around them both,” Piva said. “Of course if it comes down to a bunch sprint in San Remo and Mark is there, we’ll be working all-out for him.”
The team has done two reconnaissance rides over the Milan-San Remo course and is ready for what Piva calls one of “the most difficult races of the season.”
“The terrain is easy and you can be the most in-form rider in the bunch, but it’s still a very stressful race,” he said. “Crashes and other problems can happen at any point. It’s very fast and everybody wants to be on the front all the time. Luck plays a big part, and without a strong team to support you at the crucial moments, it’s impossible to win.”
HTC-Highroad for Milan-San Remo
- Michael Albasini (Swi)
- Lars Bak (Den)
- Mark Cavendish (GB)
- Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
- Matt Goss (Aus)
- Bert Grabsch (Ger)
- Mark Renshaw (Aus)
- Peter Velits (Svk)