The final stage of the World Ports Classic would literally end with a bang for our African team as Matt Goss and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg came crashing down in the final few kilometers while Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) went ahead to ride away with the stage and overall GC victory.
In a stage that had very little to no undulations at all, the early break were all but doomed even before they decided to actually go on the offensive during the stage start this morning. The 6 riders in the escape enjoyed some TV time but Team Astana and in particular, Adrien Niyonshuti kept the gap to within touching distance the entire stage.
The wind that wreaked havoc during the final stage last year was nowhere to be found and it was going to be your stock standard sprint stage. That was until race leader Andrea Gaurdini (Astana) had a mechanical in the final 10km. The pace was on coming toward the finish and without Astana at the head of the race, there were a number of teams jostling to assume control.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were looking good with 5km to go as Youcef Reguigui led, Gerald Ciolek, Matt Goss and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg right up near the head of the race. Just before the 3km to go banner there would be a dramatic change in events as Matt would clip the wheel in front of him, going down at speed with Reinardt also hitting the tarmac. Both MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders would thankfully be able to walk away from the crash.
Gerald made it through the pile up with 15 other riders but his early leadout efforts meant he was not able to compete with Boeckmans for the win. Danilo Napolitano (Wanty Groupe Gobert) and Alessandro Bazzana (United Healthcare) rounded out the stage podium.
Matt Goss – Rider
The crash today was my fault. I looked back for 2 seconds to see where my team were and the guys in front me moved across the road at the same point. I clipped the wheel in front of me without even seeing it and I we went down. I am sorry to all the guys that also came down with me and I really hope they are all okay.
Michel Cornelisse – Sport Director
The stage was controlled all day by Astana, Lotto and our boys. Adrien really worked hard today and he did a great job. It all went pear shaped for us just after 5km to go when Goss crashed and took Reinie with him. Thankfully both riders are okay despite losing a fair amount of skin.