ORICA-GreenEDGE Animates Tour de Suisse Stage ThreeMon 16 Jun 2014
Michael Albasini sprinted to second in Heiden, coming across the line behind Peter Sagan (Cannondale). His podium placing out of the reduced bunch comes on the heels of Cameron Meyer’s brilliant victory yesterday and capped off an impressive show of strength by ORICA-GreenEDGE throughout the third stage of the Tour de Suisse. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) rounded out the podium.
The first half of the stage was dominated by a two rider breakaway. Martin Kohler (BMC) and Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin) slipped up the road after the opening 20 kilometres. The duo were kept on a relatively short leash by Omega Pharma – Quick-Step who never allowed the gap to swell beyond the four minute mark.
With an undulating second half the stage and an uphill finish well-suited to Albasini’s strengths, ORICA-GreenEDGE sent riders to the front to shut down the break with about two hours left to race. Sam Bewley and Mat Hayman handily accomplished the task at hand. Seventy kilometres from the finish, the race had come back together.
Nino Schurter counter-attacked the catch of the early breakaway. Laurent Didier (Trek Factory) racing bridged across to the lone leader. Shortly after Didier joined Schurter, Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) made the junction. Thurau would eventually lose contact and Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Belisol) and Valeri Agnoli (Astana) would add fresh legs to the group.
Garmin-Sharp and FDJ.fr led the chase, eventually shutting down the move seven kilometres from the finish line. A number of riders attempted to put in a last ditch bid for stage glory, but a fast-reacting peloton kept the front group together. The high speed and technical finale caused splits in the group. Ultimately only the first 11 riders finished on bunch time with another 29 coming to the line five seconds later. Race leader Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) finished with the group at five seconds to protect his race lead.
COMMENTS FROM SPORT DIRECTOR NEIL STEPHENS
We had a clear plan today to try to light things up toward the hardest part of the race and ideally set up Albasini for the win. When two riders got away early, we knew we would have to shut that down. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step controlled for Tony Martin, so we let them do that work until it was time to bring the break.
Sam Bewley and Mat Hayman were in charge of closing the gap, and they did a great job with that. We didn’t want to be on the front riding the whole day, so we just used those two for a short, intense effort. They were only riding really hard for ten kilometres or so. The effort served a double purpose. It brought back the two out front and put the peloton under pressure before Nino attacked.
Nino’s attack livened up the whole race. It took the pressure off our team and made the race hard enough that only a select group would come to the finish if and when that move got caught. Nino is a punchy sort of rider, so we were happy to have the break stay away, but we were never confident that it would happen that way because the group never got more than a minute. Coming over the last climb, we even considered having Cam attack to bridge across to the leaders.
There were clearly a lot of teams interested in the finish today, and that kept the pace really high. We knew if Nino’s group was brought back, we would bring Sagan and a couple others into the finish with us. We also knew we had done everything we could for a result. We gave ourselves a chance at the start of race. We gave ourselves a chance in the middle of the race with Nino in the break. Now we were ready to give it a chance in the sprint finish with Albasini.
The team put in a fantastic effort today. Everyone did their job. It’s very difficult to win a stage at a WorldTour race, and we’ve already done that here. A second stage win would be a bonus.