Albasini maintains third overall, team ready for stage five challenge

Tue 8 Jul 2014

Michael Albasini has maintained his third position on general classification, finishing in the bunch on stage four of the Tour de France this afternoon.

In a messy finish, caused by an intense final 30km of racing, the three-time 2014 Tour of Romandie stage winner crossed the line in 12th position behind Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel who won his second consecutive and third stage for the Tour.

“We held our position. Nothing gained, nothing lost, that’s for sure,” sport director Matt White said.

Attention quickly moves to tomorrow’s stage where, in contrast to the past two days, predicted rain will make a complicated and nerve racking race from the flag.

The 155.5km fifth stage takes on a mini Paris-Roubaix challenge, including nine cobblestone sections, and the team’s car position is crucial explains White.

“If you are further back than car eight or nine you might as well be watching it on television,” White said.

“It (third position in the convoy) is the perfect position to access our guys if they have any problems.

“Once the race splits up, which will be on the first section, there will be a big barrage and you are not going to be able to get access to your riders from those cars behind number ten.”

Tomorrow’s much anticipated stage is expected to shape the remainder of the three-week Grand Tour.

“It’s going to be a very nervous day,” White said.

“Someone will lose the Tour de France tomorrow.  

“For us, we obviously haven’t got that stress. We will give a couple of our guys, Mat Hayman and (Jens) Keukeleire, an opportunity to get a result tomorrow.

“I think you are going to see a big variety between the classics specialists and the guys who have never, or very rarely, ridden on cobbles.  It’ll make for great television, but I think the bunch is going to be spread out over a long period.”