Yates and Albasini earn protection for La FlÃ¨che WallonneMon 20 Apr 2015
British climber Simon Yates and three-time 2014 Tour de Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini have earned themselves a lead role in ORICA-GreenEDGE’s assault on La Flèche Wallonne this Wednesday.
Whilst it’s the form of Yates at the recent Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, finishing an impressive fifth overall, that sees the team show him support, it’s Albasini’s consistency at the second Ardennes Classic that earns him the protection.
The 34-year-old has been the ORICA-GreenEDGE's top finisher in every edition they have raced, including a second place in the team's debut season in 2012.
“We will definitely go in with two options as a dual leadership on Wednesday,” sport director Matt White said.
“Whilst people might not see Michael Albasini’s results at Amstel or Basque country as anything special, it’s a race that suits him and his consistency over the last five years certainly deserves respect.
“Then so does Simon Yates’ form. Looking at his performance at the Basque country, he definitely deserves our protection too.”
The pair will attempt to back up the well-executed team ride at yesterday’s Amstel Gold Race that saw Michael Matthews claim his second Classics podium for 2015.
Matthews will line up in a support role alongside fellow Amstel teammates Simon Clarke, Christian Meier and Pieter Weening.
The fresh legs of Esteban Chaves and Damien Howson complete the line up.
“I think we have the ability to be on the podium,” White said. “It’s the second time Simon Yates has ridden this race and Albasini has ridden it many times very consistently.
“So the goal is a podium. If we rode like we did at Amstel Gold Race and miss out on a podium, that would still be satisfying. You can only control certain things.”
The only summit finish Classic, La Flèche Wallonne has traditionally always been won on the final climb of the Mur de Huy with a large group of riders surviving to position at the foot of the last ascent.
This year, organisers have introduced an additional climb up Côte de Cherave immediately prior, in attempt to see some variety in proceedings.
“Fleche has less climbs and is nowhere near as technical as Amstel yesterday,” White explained. “In general, it’s been a pretty predictable race but the new climb may change things a bit.”
“The new climb, that we are going to check out today, is five kilometres from the finish.
“Although I think it’ll just soften up the number of guys arriving at the bottom of the final climb. Instead of 70-80 guys there may be 30-40, but at the end of the day the winners will be the same, the race will still be won on the final climb.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at La Fleche Wallonne (22 April):