Albasini fourth, Clarke most aggressive on stage 12 of the Tour de FranceThu 17 Jul 2014
Michael Albasini has finished fourth on stage 12 of the Tour de France, capping off a strong day for ORICA-GreenEDGE that also saw Simon Clarke awarded most aggressive rider.
Clarke spent all but fifteen kilometers of the 185.5km stage out in front and will be deservedly recognised with the red most combative race numbers on his birthday tomorrow.
“The only way you are going to win is if you really put it on the line. You have to risk losing to win,” Clarke said.
“We had a big plan today to make sure at least one of us was in the breakaway and then have a couple of guys waiting for the sprint.
“We abided by the plan and did everything we could. We can only keep doing that and hopefully it will pay off eventually.”
The 2012 Vuelta a Espana King of the Mountain escaped in a five-man breakaway at the ten-kilometer mark of the stage that at its best gained an advantage of just over five minutes after 40km of racing.
With Giant-Shimano and Europcar leading the bunch and a crash in the break that saw the withdrawal of David De La Cruz (TNE) with a suspected broken collarbone, the gap began to diminish.
Recognising the fading power of the break, Clarke attacked with Garmin rider Sebastian Langeveld and the duo went alone with 55km left to race. Keen to be amongst the action, Europcar launched two riders in pursuit whilst Clarke made a solo move with 25km to go leaving Langeveld in his wake.
Europcar pair Cyril Gautier and Perrig Quemeneur joined Clarke at the 20km to go mark but they were eventually caught with five kilometers left to ride.
The team then looked to Australian champion Simon Gerrans and Albasini to contest the sprint. When Gerrans was slightly affected by a crash involving André Greipel with three kilometers to go, the reigns were left with Albasini.
“We really expected the racing to be a lot more aggressive for a lot longer this morning,” sport director Matt White said.
“It was always going to be a good day for a break away and once Clarke went with his group of five we could just sit behind and see what eventuated later on.
“When Simon (Gerrans) couldn’t get back into position after being offset by the crash of Griepel and (Sylvain) Chavanel, Alba (Albasini) made a great effort alone.
“Obviously it was not good enough to beat the best sprinters in the world, but a very solid effort.”