Oh So Close for Michael Albasini in Lyon

Sat 13 Jul 2013

Michael Albasini sprinted to second place in Lyon, missing out on his second Tour de France stage victory by half a wheel length to Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step). Two hundred metres from the finish, Albasini opened up his sprint. His impressive acceleration distanced what was left of the breakaway. Just before the line, Trentin flew past Albasini to snag the stage 14 win.

“For the moment, there is a lot of frustration,” admitted Albasini. “Maybe after dinner, I can feel a little proud of my performance today, but when you get so close to a win at the Tour de France, the first few moments after will be a lot of frustration.”

Albasini’s opportunity came from an escape group that went up the road during the opening hour of the stage. The breakaway formed from an early group of three that swelled until it was 18 strong.

“We knew it was likely that the break would stay away today,” said Sport Director Matt White. “We had a number of options. Cam Meyer, Simon Clarke, Simon Gerrans and Michael Albasini were all given the chance to get in there.”

“Albasini is very, very fast,” White added. “We have a lot of faith in him. He’s won many times from a group of that size in the technical sort of final we had today. He was the perfect guy to have in the breakaway.”

Initially, the break struggled to stretch its advantage. After nearly 100km, the peloton finally seemed to give the group its blessing. The breakaway riders traded pulls in a double paceline to distance themselves from the bunch behind.

“There were a lot of tired sprinters out there, so the bunch sprint wasn’t forced,” said White. “The peloton was happy to let the break go to the line.”

The cooperation within the break broke down as the finish line loomed. Albasini launched the first attack with 25km left to race. Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) chased him down. David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) countered the catch.

“It was hard for me when the attacks started because I had no teammates,” said Albasini. “I attacked first because I thought maybe I could make the group smaller.”

Julien Simon (Sojasun) attacked on the penultimate climb. His gained 20” in his solo bid for victory.

“It wasn’t up to me to chase him,” said Albasini. “I was focused on controlling the group behind. I couldn’t take responsibility to chase him down, too. He was riding really strong. It was close, but all our attacks brought him back.”

With Simon caught in the last kilometre, Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) opened the sprint. Albasini surged past him, and it didn’t appear as if anyone could respond to his jump.

“There was a lot of headwind in the finish straight,” said Albasini. “I went too early. The timing would have been right without the wind. It was too soon with it.”

Trentin edged out Albasini on the line. Andrew Talanksy (Garmin-Sharp) rounded out the podium. The bunch rolled across the finish 7’17 after the break.

“It was a good ride by Albasini, but I understand why he’s disappointed," said White. "It’s frustrating to come so close.”