Albasini notches up another Classics podium for ORICA-GreenEDGE at Fleche Wallonne

Wed 22 Apr 2015

Three-time 2014 Tour de Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini has claimed ORICA-GreenEDGE’s third Classics podium of 2015 at La Fleche Wallonne today.

A consistent performer at the Belgian race, including a second place in 2012, Albasini was given the opportunity to lead the Australian outfit, one he made the most of.

The 34-year-old finished third atop the Mur de Huy, trailing Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) who claimed his third title and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick Step).

“The Mur de Huy is a climb that suits me,” Albasini said. “This race is also my chance to go for a result because at Amstel (Gold) Race and Liege, I am mostly there as a teammate for Simon Gerrans or Michael Matthews."

“As my chance, I have to be good today.

“Valverde is one of the strongest guys in this kind of finish. You never know (if you can beat him), you always have to try. I was closer than ever maybe, but it still wasn’t possible today.”

Unlike Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, the day didn’t run perfectly for ORICA-GreenEDGE, but Albasini battled on and was visible at the front up the final climb to give himself every chance.

“It certainly wasn’t smooth running like the weekend,” sport director Matt White said of the 205.5km race. “Some of our boys pulled up a bit average from the big effort on Sunday and Christian Meier had a mechanical at a crucial time. “

“But those that were there in the finish were good and they prepared Albasini for the final.

“In the last climb it’s every man for himself and Albasini showed once again on that climb that he is as good as anyone in the world.”

The days break formed without too much resistance in the first 10km of racing.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Mike Teunissen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty - Groupe Gobert), Reinier Honig (Team Roompot), Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport) stretched their advantage to eight minutes from the peloton but never posed too much threat.

Back in the peloton a tense race saw a number of crashes, but by the second ascent of the Mur de Hur the break had reduced to five riders and an advantage of just 50seconds.

Late attacks on the final two climbs, including a move by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) that established a lead of 15seconds, proved unsuccessful as those remaining groveled it up the final climb for honours.