Albasini continues Romandie run with stage two victory

Wed 29 Apr 2015

Three-time 2014 stage winner Michael Albasini has once again shown his strength at the Tour de Romandie, claiming the second stage in Saint-Imier today.

Despite some struggles earlier in the day, the 34-year-old crested the final climb alongside ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates Simon Yates and Ivan Santaromita in a group of around 50 riders and was too strong in the final sprint, finishing ahead of Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quickstep).

The victory also moved the Suisse, who showed his current form with a third place at La Fleche Wallonne last week, into the race lead.

“I actually was hurting a lot on the second last climb out here in Saint-Imier,” Albasini said. “But (the final climb) was quite a regular climb. After a really fast first part, the second part was more regular and I could stay in the bunch so I knew I had a good chance in the sprint.”

“I placed myself well, I always like a little fight going on and I was maybe a little bit too far in the front too early so I was happy the guys from Garmin came around me and I could jump on them.

“Still I had to do a long long sprint so I was happy to keep (the lead).”

The victory was a sweetener for the Australian outfit who narrowly missed out on the first stage team time trial victory yesterday, beaten by the day’s final finishers, Team Sky, by less than one second.

“It was disappointing yesterday so I am super happy that we can have the first win today,” Albasini said. “It makes it a little bit better for the 0.63 of a second we lost yesterday.”

Asked after the win if he can back it up like last year’s effort of three stage wins, Albasini was content with enjoying the days effort for now.

“Last year was the first time I won a stage at Tour of Romandie and I thought winning three, I am fine for the next two years,” he joked. “But I am happy to win again, it’s my first win this season so it’s great and especially to win in Switzerland, it’s always nice.”

With memories of last year’s opening stage victory in mind, the team knew Albasini was a real chance going into today’s stage, and if not, ably backed up by British climber Yates.

“The stage finish was a similar terrain to the first stage he won last year,” sport director Neil Stephens noted. “Once he forced himself over the climb with that group, there was no one that could beat him.”

“Michael put in some great preparation for the Ardennes so he is in great shape and everyone has their good races, ones that suit them well, and his just happens to be in his home country as well so that makes it even more special.”

As the action got underway at the start of the day there was no reaction from the peloton as Jonathon Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) and Maxim Belkov (Team Katusha) worked off the front from the flag, the duo rapidly gaining almost four minutes advantage in the first ten kilometres of racing.

They remained in front for much of the day, albeit closely monitored by Team Sky who managed the front of the peloton in defence of the leader’s jersey worn by Geraint Thomas.

As they tackled the final climb of the stage, the duo’s time in front came to a close as a number of attacks, including one involving ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Santaromita, on the ascent with 22km to ride saw the peloton break into pieces.

Over the descent and into the finish, a group of 50riders came together for a sprint finish, Albasini perfectly placed and too crafty for the group that consisted mainly of general classification contenders. 

Tomorrow’s stage three is another punchy day with riders to negotiate four classified climbs on the 173.2km journey from Moutier to Porrentruy.