Swiss rider Michael Albasini has continued his excellent record of stage wins at the Tour de Romandie for ORICA-GreenEDGE by taking a stunning victory on stage five today after spending most of the day leading a ten-man breakaway.
Having won five stages in his home race over the past two years, today’s final stage win made it three consecutive years of success and also saw Albasini walk home with the green jersey for the points classification.
After an agonisingly close second place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a third place on the first stage of Romandie, Albasini was happy to finally capitalise on his strong form.
?I heard on the race radio that the gap was 17seconds so I didn?t expect to see the BMC guy come flying past me but I thought his effort may die in the last 500metres,” Albasini said. ?I launched my sprint a bit early with around 400metres to go and thankfully it was just about enough.?
?It?s been a tough week but I?m really happy with today?s result and the team have ridden well throughout the race.?
Despite the difficult conditions throughout the week-long race the team achieved their objective of winning a stage and giving oppurtunities to young riders such as Damien Howson and Jack Haig.
Howson was the team?s best placed rider in the overall general classification in 16th position behind race winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar), rounding off an excellent week for the 23-year-old Australian who also spent a day in the best young rider’s jersey.
Sport director Neil Stephens was proud of the team?s performance over the course of the race.
?It was a fantastic day for us today, Michael (Albasini) really produced the goods,” said Stephens. “He was out front all day long and we were actually preparing to put Daryl (Impey) into position for the sprint when Michael attacked again and held on for the win.?
?We started the day with the objective of maintaining Damien?s (Howson) position on the overall and we ended going one better and Damien moved up two places to finish 16th overall.?
?Obviously it?s a very difficult race,? continued Stephens. ?The parcours and the weather combined to make the conditions quite brutal but we have performed superbly as a team.?
?It?s a great feeling to be going away from the race with a stage win, the points jersey and a 23-year-old in the top twenty of the general classification keeping company with some of the best riders in the world.?
How it happened:
The fifth and final stage of the 2016 Tour de Romandie covered 172kilometres from Ollon to Geneva and the day began cold and fresh but thankfully without rain.
Ten riders, including Albasini for ORICA-GreenEDGE, escaped very early in the stage and quickly developed a lead of over three minutes on the peloton after 40kilometres of racing.
This early move proved to be very interesting as the group included Chris Froome (Team-Sky) who seemed to have rediscovered some form after winning yesterday?s Queen stage. Although quite far down on the general classification, this group of riders had the potential to stay away until the finish.
The ten leaders worked together well for the first two hours of racing over rolling roads. However it was Albasini who was hungry for the intermediate sprint points taking the full compliment at 85kilometres after beating Froome and Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quickstep) into submission.
With around 60kilometres remaining the breakaway still had two minutes over the peloton. Team Dimension-Data and Movistar were beginning to take turns at the front of the main bunch as the intensity of the chase began to increase slightly.
Movistar had race leader Quintana sitting comfortably in the peloton and they were also represented within the leaders’ group with Andrey Amador.
Eighteen kilometres from the finish in Geneva and Verona attacked from the lead group and was followed by Albasini and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo). The three began to push on ahead and had a one-minute advantage over the peloton with 15kilometres to go. The trio were joined by Amador just before the final ten kilometres.
Approaching the finish in Geneva the rain was falling and the group of four leaders were beginning to look tentatively at each other as the tension increased. The peloton were 50seconds behind with seven kilometres to go.
As the four leaders passed under the flamme rouge the chasing peloton were only a few seconds behind when a crash occurred at the front of the bunch. A BMC rider made a late attempt for the line but Albasini kicked again and claimed the victory by more than a bike length.
ORICA-GreenEDGE are next in action on Friday the 6th of May in the opening stage of the 2016 Giro d?Italia.
Tour de Romandie stage five results:
1. Michael Albasini (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 04:13:17
2. Andrey Amador (Movistar) ST
3. Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST
Final general classification results:
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 16:20:20
2. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 00:00:19
3. Jon Izagirre (Movistar) 00:00:23
16. Damien Howson (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:04:21