Five alive ... Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish (left) winning the fifth stage of of the Giro d'Italia. Photo: Reuters
Fano, Italy: Matt Goss has cast aside the disappointment of being beaten by British world champion Mark Cavendish in the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday to declare his intentions for an all-out assault on the race leader's pink jersey in Friday's tough sixth stage.
The 210km stage from Urban to Porto Sant'Elpidio will be the toughest of the Giro so far with several third category climbs and one second category ascent - but they are early in the race, offering sprinters like Goss who can climb strong hopes of the stage being settled in a sprint.
While Cavendish (Sky) beat Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) fair and square in Thursday's 209km fifth stage from Modena to Fano on the Adriatic coast, there is strong belief that the Manx Missile might struggle on the climbs on Friday and that if there is an attack - or acceleration - he will be dropped.
Oh baby ... Mark Cavendish on the podium with daughter Delilah Grace. Photo: Reuters
Goss, who won stage three in which Cavendish crashed with 125m to go, is a strong climber for a sprinter.
Not that Goss - nor anyone - will ever underestimate Cavendish. While climbing is not his forte, he is a tough customer when the odds are against him; and in the fourth category hill late in Thursday's stage that was far more difficult than the race book indicated, he rode exceedingly well.
But Goss realises a great opportunity exists to not just claim a second stage win but a career lifting spell in the race leader's pink jersey, or maglia rosa.
After Thursday's fifth stage, Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) still lead the Giro. He had five seconds on South African Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda), 11 seconds on Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), 13 seconds on Goss and 14 seconds on Cavendish.
With time bonuses of 20, 12 and 10 seconds for the first three riders on the stage - and should Cavendish be dropped - the objective is a realistic.
"We are going to have a real crack," Goss told Fairfax of his team's plan for Friday's sixth stage. "I am only 13 seconds off the [leader's] jersey.
"If everything went perfect in a perfect world maybe we could get the jersey. It's going to be a tough stage. It is definitely going to be a hard one.
"There are some really solid climbs early on and undulating all the way to the finish. There would be some teams out there wanting to make it a bit harder. As long as I am having a good day, the condition is fine and the form is good ... we will give it a real nudge."
To claim his sixth win of the season - and the ninth of his career in the Giro from four starts - Cavendish beat Goss and Italian Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan). Cavendish was understandably elated, especially after his stage three crash at Horsens when he was taken out by Italian Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela). "I am very happy to win. The team did a great job for me today in the finale," Cavendish, who has won 32 stages in the three grand tours of Italy, France and Spain said. "I couldn't sleep after my fall [on Monday], so I wasn't 100 per cent and I felt tired."
Adding to Cavendish's joy was that he got to celebrate the win with his partner, Peta Todd and recently born baby daughter, Delilah Grace, who he held on the podium. "There's no better feeling than holding your baby in your arms," said Cavendish after. "Only thing comes close: holding your baby on the podium. It's my first stage win with her at the race. I'm very happy. I'm very happy she's here. I'm happy Peta's here. I'm very proud."
Cavendish rode well up the unexpectedly tough climb in the last 40km where the teammates of former Giro winner, the Italian Ivan Basso (Liquigas), forced the absence of sprinters American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), Norway's Thor Hushovd (BMC) and Argentinian JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank).
But on the flat, Cavendish's teammates came to the fore, especially in the last 10km when Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas set him up for the win.
Goss took nothing away from Cavendish's win after, but lamented losing touch with Australian Brett 'Burt' Lancaster and South African Daryl Impey on a corner with 600m after which the road opened up for the sprint. "We had a plan to try and either be first into that corner at 600 or wait and come out of it. Two of the guys [Lancaster and Impey] were first into it and I didn't get through," Goss said. "Daryl got through fine and 'Burt' was just behind him, but then because I was so far behind there I got on the radio and told the guys to swing off the front. If they kept going they were going to deliver 'Cav' perfectly to the line. 'Burt' pretty much swung out straight away, but he did that off his own accord and didn't hear me on the radio. Daryl had done most of his turn and was in and out of there but ... things don't always go exactly according to plan. We knew that corner was to be really fast, but it was really a lot smaller road than we thought it would be. When I started the sprint I tried to get an early jump on 'Cav'. But as I was coming to him he went.
"I got straight on the wheel and attempted to come off [him], but it was already going to be a long sprint."
Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d'Italia courtesy of the Orica-GreenEDGE team in the first week and Euros in its entirety.All stages will be covered live by Eurosport (Foxtel Ch 511). Stage 6 live coverage on Friday starts at 22.45pm (AEST). Check programs.
The Giro d'Italia (May 5-27)
Friday: Stage 6 - Urban to Portosant'Elpido, 210km
Type of stage: Medium mountain
Main difficulty: The 3.5km second category Pass Della Capella to 118km, plus three third category climbs.
How to watch: TV - Live on Eurosport (Foxtel Ch 511), Friday from 22.45pm (AEST). Check schedule.