Albasini into fourth overall after tough stage twoSun 6 Jul 2014
Multiple 2014 Tour of Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini has launched himself into fourth overall with a spirited ride on stage two of the Tour de France.
After what was a grueling day of racing, Albasini crossed the line in sixth position after being given the nod as the team leader as Simon Gerrans felt the effects of yesterday’s crash.
“Gerro (Gerrans) let us know he didn’t feel super on the second last categorised climb so I knew I had to have a go today,” Albasini said.
“I tried hard, there was nothing more for me to do today, I had nothing left in my legs.
“All the biggest guys from the Tour were there in the finale so I have to be happy with that.”
Despite nine categorised climbs within the 201km stage, it was left to an animated final ascent to determine a victor.
“As the race went forward I recognised that it was all going to happen on this last 800m climb, but it was a really hard 800 meters,” Albasini said.
“The guys did an awesome job bringing me into first position for this last steep climb so I am really appreciative that I had this chance.
“Usually I can sprint a little bit better but I couldn’t do anything to stay on the wheels. There was nothing left in my legs.”
“Of course this stage was one of the big goals for the team. The original plan was to do it with Gerro, so on one side I am happy with my stage today but on the other it is a little bit frustrating after the stage we had yesterday.”
Whilst the team went into the stage looking to work for Gerrans, Albasini was also allocated as a team leader should the requirement arise.
“It was a good result,” sport director Matt White said.
“We were going into the stage to see how Simon was going to go.
“He was good but obviously no where near his best after the crash yesterday which is to be expected, so Simon let the guys and myself know in the last 30 minutes that we were going to put everything into Alba (Albasini).
“Alba was protected by the boys all day along with Simon, particularly in the last hour of racing and especially into the last couple of climbs.”
A large but select group of 21 riders arrived at the finish line, before Italian champion Vincenzo Nibali (AST) escaped off the front for the victory.
“Having looked at the course last week, I don’t think anyone expected such a big group to arrive together,” White said.
“All the GC (general classification) guys were watching each other. There was a lot of cat and mouse on the climb, the guys just couldn’t move, it was a very tough climb.
“We were hoping that Alba might be able to win the stage but obviously Nibali made a very intelligent move.”