ORICA-SCOTT rider Michael Albasini added another stage victory to his name in the Tour de Romandie today as he sprinted to the win on a rainy stage one.
The local Swiss rider was able to stay with the fast tempo set over the final first category climb and positioned himself well to launch towards his second victory of the season and seventh stage victory in the Swiss tour.
ORICA-SCOTT animated the finale of the challenging first stage with late attacks from Damien Howson and Roman Kreuziger, however, in the end no riders where able to gain a gap and the day concluded with a reduced bunch sprint.
“It is a great victory today,” 36-year-old Albasini said. “It was not easy to win today coming straight from the classics as that was a big goal and it takes a lot of mental energy.”
“I really needed to focus coming to this race to suffer and to fight. It is Romandie so it is important I can come here and race well, so I am very happy that I could take the win today.
“I wasn’t so confident for today’s stage but I told myself if I can be there at the end in Liege-Bastogne-Liege after 4,000metres of climbing then why can’t I be able to be here over the climbs today.
“I tried to fight and stay in the bunch and it worked out to be even better than I thought so I am really happy with that.”
Sport director Neil Stephens was delighted with the result along with the entire team performance throughout the tough 173kilometre wet stage.
“The whole team rode well today, they kept their calm through the valley and Alex Edmondson and Sam Bewley placed the boys really well into the bottom of the climb and the climbing crew took over from there,” Stephens said.
“We had a plan that if we got to the climb and Alba wasn’t able to stay with them, then it was up to Yates and Kreuziger, but if Alba was still there for the finish then we would work to help him and that was the case.”
Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates also added to the team’s success today by taking the mountains classification jersey after leading over the top of the final climb in an attempt to keep things together in support of Albasini, who also finished the day in the lead of the sprint classification.
“Yates was on the front over the top of the climb making sure everything stayed together for Alba and he therefore took top mountains points,” Stephens continued. “That was extra bonus for us to have him on the podium as well.”
How it happened:
Like yesterday’s opening prologue the riders were faced with chilly, rainy conditions ahead of the 173kilometre road stage.
Within the first 20kilometres of the race six riders opened up a gap and established the main breakaway of the day.
The six-man group eventually reduced down to just four riders, Matey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal), Mekseb Debesay (Dimension-Data) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty Gobert) as they passed the 100kilometres to go mark and onto the categorised climbs.
The quadruplet achieved a maximum advantage of eight and a half minutes before the peloton picked up the chase, gradually reeling them back in.
Over the top of the penultimate third category climb with 16kilometres to go, the leader’s advantage had reduced down to just one minute 30seconds as the rain continued to pour.
Eventually the breakaway riders where swallowed up with six kilometres to go and a flurry of attacks came. Howson found himself in a small lead group and immediately after it was brought back, Kreuziger launched a counter attack.
With the bunch remaining in tact, Yates led over the summit of the climb and continued to set the tempo down towards the finish line with Albasini showing his experience and form to blast to another victory this season.
Australian results: Stage 1 Tour de Romandie 26th April
1 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott 4:33:10
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
3 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
19 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott
24 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
35 Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-Scott
40 Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
79 Rob Power (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:01:34
110 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac 0:09:00
127 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:12:36
152 William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac 0:17:05
General classification after stage 1:
- Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) 4:39:07
- Max Schachmann (Quickstep-Floors) +0:08
- Jesus Herrada (Movistar) ST
- Michael Albasini (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:14