Albasini Takes Third Stage Win for Team Columbia in Tour of Switzerland
A strong, long sprint by local rider Michael Albasini netted Team Columbia-Highroad their third win in five stages in the Tour de Suisse. Albasini’s victory came on the toughest stage of the race, a 202-kilometer leg from Stafa to Serfaus, with a first category climb and third category climb immediately preceding an uphill finish. The Swiss rider took off from a group of favorites in the final kilometre and stayed away for his first victory since a stage of the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain in early April.
Albasini’s stage-five win continues a spectacular succession of victories for Columbia-Highroad in the Tour de Suisse started by Bernhard Eisel on stage two and continuing with Mark Cavendish on stage three. “I had to push myself hard to win, but it was worth it to win the hardest stage of the race,” Albasini said afterwards.
“I didn’t know the climbs at all, either, because it’s a long way from my home in Switzerland. Fortunately I was able to get on Fabian Cancellara’s wheel when he went for another rider who’d already attacked in the last kilometre. Then immediately after that I got past Fabian and just gave it 100 percent. It wasn’t really a sprint because it came at the end of a long day in the mountains, but somehow I managed to keep going. I’ve been targeting this race since the beginning of May, because this is my home race and so obviously it’s a big goal for me. Winning here in Switzerland is always special for a Swiss rider,” Albasini added.
Looking further ahead, Albasini said he did not rule himself out for the overall classification, although not the top three. “I wanted to go for a podium place, but in the first couple of stages I suffered more than I expected. I didn't have good legs, and it was very difficult for me to say with the favorites. Still, if I finish with a top ten place overall as well as this stage win, I’ll be more than satisfied.”
Albasini’s teammate Tony Martin was in the thick of the action in the last part of the stage and remains in control of the King of the Mountains classification. In the 2009 season, Columbia-Highroad men’s team have now taken a total of 38 victories, making them the ProTour squad with the highest tally of wins in the year so far.
Tadej Valjavec still leads the 2009 Tour of Switzerland overall.