Two in a row for Albasini in Romandie

Thu 30 Apr 2015

Yesterday’s stage winner Michael Albasini has made it two in a row at the Tour de Romandie, winning stage three in Porrentruy this afternoon.

The three-time 2014 stage winner was ably supported by a committed ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit for much of the day, including in the final stages by 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans.

The victory extends Albasini’s overall lead in the UCI WorldTour event to 20seconds, ORICA-GreenEDGE also with Italian Ivan Santaromita (2nd) and Briton Simon Yates (4th) in the top four.

“First of all we have to realise what my team did for me today,’ Albasini said. “They really drove strong in the first half of the race and in the final even Santaromita was around to make sure nobody was riding away.”

“Then I had one of the best riders in the bunch lead me out, so I just had to win it.”

Asked if he believed he could pull off his fifth stage victory in two years, the 34-year-old said he was confident.

“Sure,” Albasini said. “I knew the two consecutive climbs, they were really hard and most of the really fast guys wouldn’t survive them so I knew I would be one of the faster guys left.

“Then the team did everything for me to make a sprint.”

For sport director Neil Stephens, it was the complete team contribution that proved most satisfying.

“It’s a nice situation when you have had a win and you have the jersey, all the other teams expect you to ride, you do it, and you win,” Stephens said. “They gave it everything, sure they are tired now but they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Everyone had a piece of the stage win today and Gerrans was the one who did the last killometre.

“Those last couple of climbs were really hard and Gerro was actually 20seconds off the back of the bunch on the last hard climb, the second last climb of the day, and he fought his way back.  Then in the final Albasini was shadowing everywhere Simon took him and it’s great to see Simon back in good form and doing the right thing for the team.”

As racing got underway, ORICA-GreenEDGE took position at the head of the peloton in defence of the yellow jersey worn by Albasini courtesy of yesterday’s victory.

Kristof Vandewalle (Trek Factory Racing), Cheng Ji (Team Giant Alpecin) and Brian Bulgac (Team Lotto-Jumbo) established the day’s break and were allowed over eight minutes advantage in the first 30km before the Australian outfit lifted their intensity to start to eat into their advantage.

With 67 of the 173km stage remaining, riders made their first passage through the finish line before embarking on a large lap that contained three classified climbs. The advantage to the lead trio was less than three minutes.

Movistar joined ORICA-GreenEDGE’s chase efforts and with a little under 50km remaining the race was back together.

Despite countless attempts to snap the elastic, including by serious general classification contenders, the race remained all-but together for the remainder of racing.

Tomorrow’s fourth stage continues with another punchy parcours, including two classified climbs in the final 30km into the finish town of Fribourg.

In other news, after the elation of yesterday’s stage win courtesy Michael Albasini, ORICA-GreenEDGE received confirmation that Canadian champion Svein Tuft suffered injuries from a crash that will rule him out of the Giro d’Italia.

Tuft crashed at the back of the peloton yesterday having collected bottles for his teammates. He was able to remount and complete the stage but was later sent to hospital for assessment.

Scans have revealed a minor wrist fracture and injured sternum and at the recommendation of medical staff, the team will take a cautious approach to his recovery.