Albasini Takes Second Straight Stage Win in Tour de Romandie
Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) has taken his second consecutive stage of the Tour de Romandie. Albasini won a bunch gallop to snare the hilly, 166.5-km ride from Sion to Montreux in 4:12:22. Tony Hurel (Europcar) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) finished second and third, respectively. Albasini is the new race leader.
The break of the day consisted of Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling) and Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team). They bolted from the peloton at the start and led the bunch by one minute at seven km. The escapees’ advantage maxed out at 13 minutes, but the peloton, led by Omega Pharma-Quick Step, narrowed the gap.
With 30 km left, the break led the bunch by two minutes. That lead was down to one and a half minutes with 15 km remaining and 0:54 five km after that. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Team GreenEdge, and Lampre-Merida joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the front, and the quartet of teams wiped out what remained of the fugitives’ advantage. With three km left, the escapees were reeled in.
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) led out race leader Kwiatkowski, but Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) bumped the Pole off of Martin’s wheel. Kwiatkowski started the sprint, but Albasini came around him for the win. The bonus seconds that the GreenEdge man picked up gave him the race lead.
According to Team GreenEdge directeur sportif Neil Stephens, today’s stage was earmarked as one that Albasini could win, particularly after yesterday’s victory. “The plan right from the start was to support Michael,” said Stephens. “Before the race began on Tuesday, we always knew we would go for Michael on today’s stage. We thought there was a very good chance that he would win it--especially after we saw how he went yesterday.”
“The bunch was bigger than we had hoped coming into the finish, but Michael is a fighter,” Stephens added. “He’s very dedicated to his teammates. He saw the effort that they gave for him, and he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He took out the finish today in large part thanks to their work.”
For his part, Albasini did not have good sensations going into the sprint, but he was able to gut out the win. “When you’re not feeling good, you never know how the sprint is going to work out,” said the Swiss. “I started moving up really late. I left it until three or four kilometres to go. I watched out for some quick wheels, and I was lucky to choose the right one. I stayed on the wheel up to 100 metres when I could go just on the right side. I was quite fresh because I wasn’t catching any wind. It was perfect for me. I was surprised to win such a big bunch sprint.”
In the overall, Albasini leads Kwiatkowski by 0:05 and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp-POC) by 0:10. Stage 3 will change the standings. The 181-km ride from Le Bouveret to Aigle will feature four Category 1 climbs, including Villars-sur-Olon, which will summit 16 km from the finish. Who will win? Who will take the yellow jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!