Michael Albasini Launches Solo Move on Penultimate Lap in Montréal

Mon 16 Sep 2013

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took a resounding win in Montréal on Sunday confirming his status as a pre-race favourite for the road race at the World Championships in Florence in two weeks. Rather than wait for the sprint, Sagan launched a decisive attack over the Cote de la Polytechnique with 5.5km left to race. The Slovakian held off his chasers wake to solo to victory.

Simone Ponzi (Astana) bested Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) in a two up sprint for second place 4” behind Sagan while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) won the sprint for fourth place from a chase group of eight. Pieter Weening was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE, crossing the finish line in 32nd place at 26”.

A seven rider breakaway dominated the early action. Zach Bell (Canadian National team), Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff), Danilo Hondo (RadioShack Leopard Trek), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) were given the peloton’s blessing on the first of 17 laps of the storied 12.1km circuit. Omega Pharma Quick-Step allowed the seven to grow their advantage to nearly five minutes in lap two before they came to fore to control the move.

Katusha teammates Petr Ignatenko and Rudiger Selig attempted to bridge the distance between the peloton and the escape group at the mid-point of the races. Their efforts were for naught as the bunch overtook them before they could reach the frontrunners. Team Sky assumed control of the pace in the second half of the race spelling the break’s premature demise with four laps remaining.

A flurry of counter-attacks followed the catch of the early break. Although the increase in pace reduced the size of the bunch, all attempts to escape up the road initially proved fruitless. Finally, with two laps remaining, seven riders slipped away on the Polytechnique. Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Oss (BMC), Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) had a 25” advantage over the peloton, now led by Cannondale, at the start of the penultimate lap.

The big names came out to play on Mont Royal as Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard Trek) bridged across to the leaders. When Peter Sagan (Cannondale) joined in on the action, all cooperation in the breakaway ceased. The 11 riders found themselves back in the bunch with 18km left to race.

Michael Albasini jumped out of the front group of approximately 40 riders and had 15” on the peloton and 7” on Amael Moinard (BMC) when he crossed the finish line for the start of the bell lap. Both Albasini and Moinard were swept up by the bunch on the final ascent of Mount Royal. Robert Gesink (Belkin) was the next to accelerate. Sagan marked Gesink’s move, and the scramble that followed split the peloton. Weening had made the selection.

A fresh set of attacks, all of which were neutralised, saw an 11 rider group take shape. Hesjedal attacked out of the elite group on the Cote de la Polytechnique. Sagan countered Hesjedal’s move, flying by the Canadian en route to victory.

“With the legs that Pieter and Albasini have, we were hoping for a better result,” admitted Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “The attack by Albasini was part of our plan. Normally the best climbers attack on the last time up Mount Royal and Polytechnique. We knew it would be hard for Albasini to stay in the group if he started the climb in the bunch. His attack was his chance to have a little bit of a head start when the moves happened, but it didn’t work out for him.

“Again Pieter was in the moves, but he didn’t have a result in the end,” added Lapage. “He has good legs. It shows that he is ready for Worlds.”

“With Québec and Montreal, I see an aggressive team that missed the results,” Lapage concluded. “The guys that are racing the Worlds are well prepared. They may not be the favourites for the win, but they can be there at the end of the race.”