BDW It's a pleasure to get so well written press releases! :) Bravo Ben Gastauer!
Michael Albasini Wins First Stage of Volta a Catalunya
Solo Victory in Calella
Michael Albasini won the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya. The Swiss crossed the finish line in Calella alone to take his first win in GreenEDGE colors. Part of a five-rider break that formed following the first intermediate sprint, Albasini attacked from a group of riders in the breakaway on the Alt de Collsacreu, 15 kilometres from the finish.
"It's great to get the win," said Albasini. "The first win with a new team is always very special. I worked hard in the off season. To see this work pay off for me and the team is important."
GreenEDGE started the seven-day tour with a two-pronged approach for the first day of racing.
"We had two different scenarios to play with," said Sports Director Neil Stephens. "We had Michael, Daryl [Impey], Fumy [Beppu] and Christain [Meier] all ready to take any opportunity they saw. Among those four, Michael was the most experienced. We also had the sprinter side of the team with Julian [Dean], Brett [Lancaster] and Allan Davis ready to mix things up in a bunch sprint. I was especially interested to see how Allan would go as it's been some time since he raced. I told the sprinters they needed to get over the first category climb and we would reassess then. They all made it over the climb, but by then, Michael was solid in the break."
The intermediate sprint came around the 40 kilometre mark of the 138.9 kilometre stage. Albasini attacked for the points on offer and found himself with an unexpected gap.
"There was a lot of attacking early on," noted Stephens. "We obviously took part of these attacks, too. Michael went for the intermediate sprint and found himself in a group with five guys. The group worked really well together."
Anthony Delaplace (Saur - Sojasun), Nicolas Edet (Le Credit En Ligne), Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Ben Gastauer (Ag2r La Mondiale) had joined Albasini up the road. The quintet worked together to build up a maximum five minute advantage over the hilly parcours.
"The break maintained a nice gap heading into the final climb," Stephens said. "Michael knew he was the strongest there. He was confident of his form. He went four or five kilometres from top of the climb and they never saw him again."
"I realized if I could unload the other guys in the break, I had a good chance of making it to the finish," added Albasini. "At that point, I wasn't sure if I could hold off the bunch chasing behind. I had [Sports Director] Vittorio Algeri behind me giving me information and willing me onto the finish. I really appreciate the work of the team that put me in the position to win."
With Albasini up the road, the break quickly splintered. Delaplace and Edet unsuccessfully attempted to reel back the the Swiss GreenEDGE rider, while Duggan and Gastauer were caught by the bunch before the finish. Delaplace would eventually come home in second with Edet just behind in third. The field contested the sprint for fourth with Allan Davis taking fourth in the sprint for seventh overall.
"A bunch sprint is not quite the same as a full-on sprint for the win, but it's good training for those types of situations," explained Stephens.
Albasini walked away from stage one with the leader's jersey, mountain's jersey and points jersey.
"It's a great win today - a great win for GreenEDGE and Michael," said Stephens. "This is a really hard race with some big climbs on the third day of racing. There are riders here with general classification aspirations. Our guys aren't amongst them. We'll enjoy the leader's jersey tomorrow, and we might hold onto for one more day after that. We're not looking to defend the jersey all week. We came here for stage wins, and that goal hasn't changed."
|1||Michael Albasini (Swi) GreenEdge Cycling Team||3:20:04|
|2||Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||0:00:42|
|3||Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne||0:01:14|
|4||Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||0:01:32|
|5||Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale|
|6||Roger Kluge (Ger) Project 1t4i|
|7||Allan Davis (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team|
|8||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|9||Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling|
|10||Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Pro Team Astana|
104 Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan