Tour de Romandie: Stage 1

Orica-Scott rider Michael Albasini added another stage victory to his name on stage 1 of Tour de Romandie, Simon Yates leads the King of the Mountains

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Tour de Romandie: Stage 1

ORICA-SCOTT rider Michael Albasini added another stage victory to his name in the Tour de Romandie today as he sprinted to the win on a rainy stage one.

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The local Swiss rider was able to stay with the fast tempo set over the final first category climb and positioned himself well to launch towards his second victory of the season and seventh stage victory in the Swiss tour. ORICA-SCOTT animated the finale of the challenging first stage with late attacks from Damien Howson and Roman Kreuziger, however, in the end no riders where able to gain a gap and the day concluded with a reduced bunch sprint.

“It is a great victory today,” 36-year-old Albasini said. “It was not easy to win today coming straight from the classics as that was a big goal and it takes a lot of mental energy. I really needed to focus coming to this race to suffer and to fight. It is Romandie so it is important I can come here and race well, so I am very happy that I could take the win today.

“I wasn’t so confident for today’s stage but I told myself if I can be there at the end in Liege-Bastogne-Liege after 4,000metres of climbing then why can’t I be able to be here over the climbs today. I tried to fight and stay in the bunch and it worked out to be even better than I thought so I am really happy with that.”

Sport director Neil Stephens was delighted with the result along with the entire team performance throughout the tough 173kilometre wet stage. The whole team rode well today, they kept their calm through the valley and Alex Edmondson and Sam Bewley placed the boys really well into the bottom of the climb and the climbing crew took over from there,” Stephens said.

“We had a plan that if we got to the climb and Alba wasn’t able to stay with them, then it was up to Yates and Kreuziger, but if Alba was still there for the finish then we would work to help him and that was the case.”

Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates also added to the team’s success today by taking the mountains classification jersey after leading over the top of the final climb in an attempt to keep things together in support of Albasini.

“Yates was on the front over the top of the climb making sure everything stayed together for Alba and he therefore took top mountains points,” Stephens continued. “That was extra bonus for us to have him on the podium as well.”
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How it happened
Like yesterday’s opening prologue the riders were faced with chilly, rainy conditions ahead of the 173kilometre road stage. Within the first 20kilometres of the race six riders (including Owain Doull) opened up a gap and established the main breakaway of the day. The six-man group eventually reduced down to just four riders, Matey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal), Mekseb Debesay (Dimension-Data) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty Gobert) as they passed the 100kilometres to go mark and onto the categorised climbs.

The quadruplet achieved a maximum advantage of eight and a half minutes before the peloton picked up the chase, gradually reeling them back in. Over the top of the penultimate third category climb with 16kilometres to go, the leader’s advantage had reduced down to just one minute 30seconds as the rain continued to pour. Eventually the breakaway riders where swallowed up with six kilometres to go and a flurry of attacks came. Howson found himself in a small lead group and immediately after it was brought back, Kreuziger launched a counter attack.

With the bunch remaining in tact, Yates led over the summit of the climb and continued to set the tempo down towards the finish line with Albasini showing his experience and form to blast to another victory this season.

Fabio Felline Trek – Segafredo: “We always went with a good tempo,” explained Felline about the final climb. “I think this was why we did not have any real big attack. It was a climb that was easier to stay in the wheels and follow than attack.”

“I am a little bit disappointed for the final sprint because in the last kilometre I followed the two riders who tried to attack, but then starting the downhill I was passed by a group of guys, and I was closed for the sprint. I wanted to do a good sprint and have another result,” continued Felline. “Why not?  But in the end, we have conserved the jersey, and that was the big focus of the day. I want to give a big thanks to my teammates because they did a fantastic job all day.”

1. Michael Albasini ORICA-Scott
2. Diego Ulissi UAE Team Emirates
3. Jesús Herrada Movistar Team
4. Berhane Natnael Dimension Data
5. Chris Froome Team Sky
6. Pello Bilbao Astana Pro Team
7. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb
8. David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors
9. Richard Carapaz Movistar Team
10. Pierre Latour AG2R La Mondiale

13. Fabio Felline Trek – Segafredo
24. Richie Porte BMC Racing Team
28. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott
57. Peter Kennaugh Team Sky
67. James Shaw Lotto Soudal 1:15
91. Alex Dowsett Movistar Team 4.57
106. Ben Swift UAE Team Emirates
123. Owain Doull Team Sky

1. Fabio Felline Trek – Segafredo104:39:07
2. Maximilian Schachmann Quick-Step Floors 0:08
3. Jesús Herrada Movistar Team
4. Primož Roglič Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:09
5. Ion Izagirre Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 0:12
6. Bob Jungels Quick-Step Floors
7. José Gonçalves Team Katusha – Alpecin 0:13
8. Rubén Fernández Movistar Team
9. Michael Albasini ORICA-Scott 0:14
10. Jonathan Castroviejo Movistar Team

16. Simon Yates, ORICA-Scott 0:18
39. Christopher Froome Team Sky 0:29
59. PeterKennaugh Team Sky 0:53
67. James Shaw Lotto Soudal 1:41
88. Alex DowsettMovistar Team 4:59
112. Ben Swift UAE Team Emirates 9:34
128. Owain Doull Team Sky 13:01



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