Saturday, 14 July 2012
Matt Goss' Orica-GreenEDGE team have vowed to channel their fury at his controversial relegation into a Tour de France stage win.
The new Australian team are fuming after race judges penalised Goss for not holding his line in a crucial one-on-one sprint against rival Peter Sagan.
They were sprinting for sixth place at the end of stage 12 on Friday, won by Scot David Millar.
Goss was making up ground on Sagan in the green jersey classification, reducing the margin from a whopping 61 points after stage three to only 24 ahead of the stage 12 finish.
Goss crossed the line ahead of Sagan, taking the deficit to 22, but the young Slovakian star immediately raised his hand in protest and the judges soon agreed with him.
The Australian was relegated in the sprint, which cost him just two points because the pair were on their own - meaning he only lost one place.
But the judges also decided to fine Goss 30 points, a massive penalty in the context of the green jersey duel.
He now trails Sagan by 56 - a hefty margin with eight stages left.
"What a waste of a day," Goss said after learning of the decision.
He admitted coming off his line in the sprint, but denied impeding Sagan.
Team director Matt White strongly disagreed with the verdict and said his riders would use the penalty to spur them towards their other goal in this Tour - a stage win.
Stage 13 should end in a bunch sprint.
"Expect to see a very fired group of gentleman take to the start of stage 13," White said on the team website.
"The relegation decision hasn't been well-received.
"You'll see a motivated team looking for that first stage win."
There were no changes to the overall standings, with British star Brad Wiggins leading and defending champion Cadel Evans three minutes and 19 seconds behind in fourth.
But the transition stage between the Alps and Pyrenees was far from an easy day for the pair.
Evans admitted to finding the pace hard in the 226km stage, the longest of the race.
Wiggins suffered minor burns to his arm when fans let off flares.
"Quite a few guys let flares off - it was pretty dangerous and my arm was burnt a bit but I'm pretty sure those guys are nursing a few wounds," he said.
"We (riders) threw water bottles back in their direction."