Top ten for Albasini and a day in the breakaway for Verona on stage 1, Tour des Fjords

Tue 22 May 2018

Swiss rider Michael Albasini kicked off the Tour des Fjords for Mitchelton-SCOTT with ninth place in the bunch sprint into Grimstad, after teammate Carlos Verona spent the majority of the 191kilometre stage in the breakaway.

Despite the breakaway's efforts, the group was eventually caught inside the final eight kilometres as Micthelton-SCOTT then turned their attention to a bunch sprint finish with Albasini. It was Quickstep-Floors who came out on top with Fabio Jakobsen stealing the sprint victory.

Six animate the day

The first stage began with a fierce pace and numerous attacks until finally the elastic snapped and Verona along with Frantisek Sisr (CCC) and Henrik Evensen (Joker Icopal) opened up a small gap. Two more riders, Floris Gerts (Roompot) and Pearson Kristoffer (Aqua Blue) attacked away from the peloton and joined the leading trio.

Shortly after, Gustav Hoog (Team Coop) also bridged to the leaders and the group established a two minute 30second advantage after just 20kilometres of racing. 

The peloton on patrol 

The peloton remained attentive throughout the day and controlled the distance, not allowing the leaders to gain a dangerous lead.

At one point the gap dropped to just one minute 20seconds as Quickstep-Floors and Dimension-Data increased the tempo on the front, and the race remained like that for the entire stage, with the breakaway yo-yoing between one and half to two and a half minutes.

With 16kilometres to go the breakaway group appeared to be tiring and their lead dropped to just one minute with teams clearly wanting a bunch sprint. The catch was finally made with eight kilometres to go and immediately Mitchelton-SCOTT headed to the front.

Crash in the final

In the final few hundred metres, Albasini was lucky to avoid a crash but was pushed against the barriers which hampered his run to the line. The Swiss rider some lost momentum as the sprint unfolded ahead and crossed the line in ninth place and moves into 12th place overall after stage one.

Carlos Verona - Breakaway rider

"Before coming to this race I had in my mind the idea to go in the break on the first stage, because it wasn’t a really flat course and also because in the first stage you never know who is going to control. When we did the team meeting this morning, I had green light to try and immediately I set my mind in mode attack. 
"After 10km of racing, on a hard hill I was able to get into a five man breakaway. Unfortunately QuickStep-Floors and Dimension-Data took the control of the race immediately and we always held a gap of around two minutes. 
"With the little difference we had, I knew that to make it to the finish line would be almost impossible, but I am happy to have given it a go.
"The rest of the team rode well and protected and they worked really good for Albasini who ended up in the top 10 in the sprint. We have two stages more to keep trying for a victory."

Tour des Fjords stage 1 results:

1. Fabio Jakobsen   (Quickstep-Floors) 4:22:32
2. Moreno Hofland (Lotto-Soudal) ST
3. Timo Roosen (LottoNL_Jumbo) ST
9. Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

General classification after stage 1:

1. Fabio Jakobsen   (Quickstep-Floors) 4:22:22
2. Moreno Hofland (Lotto-Soudal) +0:04
3. Frantisek Sisr (CCC) +0:05
12. Michael Albasini  (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:10

Photos courtesy of Getty Images