Michael Albasini stormed to solo victory in Arosa on the eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse. The lone breakaway survivor from a four-rider move that formed 15 kilometers into stage eight, Albasini crossed the finish line with 1:15 on the field.
"My first goal today was to get into the breakaway because we rode through the town where I lived," said Albasini. "I have tried to get in a break every day, and today was another day where I made the same attempt. I did a hard attack to get away with four other riders. I'm surprised that I could bring it all the way to the finish. I'm really happy with this win."
Albasini leads an escape to win: Photo Credit: Graham Watson
Sports Director Neil Stephens explained that Albasini had always had his eye on this stage. Originally Stephens had ruled out his team for the mountainous weekend racing.
"On paper, stage six looked like our last chance to take a stage win," explained Stephens. "I talked to Michael on Thursday, and he told me that he thought he could do something in the mountains. He said he would go easy in the time trial and look for his chance the next day. I gave him the okay on this strategy, and that's exactly what he did."
Putting a rider up the road, with the right combination of teams in the breakaway, is far easier said than done. ORICA-GreenEDGE studied the course profile and identified two difficult spots in the opening kilometers of the race that would give them their best chance of sending Albasini up the road.
"There were two quite difficult moments at kilometer 12 and kilometer 26," explained Stephens. "We thought it was best to wait for the 26 kilometer mark, but Michael saw his chance at 12 kilometers, and he took it."
Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Remi Cusin (Team Type 1-Sanofi) and Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Barracuda) joined Albasini up the road. The quartet held a five minute advantage when they hit the base of the second category Castiel. As the field began to eat into the break's advantage, Albasini launched his first attack. Only Velits could match the acceleration.
"Peter looked really good on the first climb, and I actually was scared of him a little bit," noted Albasini. "He did the first part of the climb really hard, but as we came to the false flat, I started to pull. I realized that I was gapping him and that he wasn't as good anymore. I maintained my pace on the stepper parts, and he couldn't go with me. He dropped, and I was alone."
Albisini alone, on the way to win. Photo Credit: Graham Watson
Eight uphill kilometers to Arosa stood between Albasini and stage glory.
"Once I was alone, I knew it was all or nothing," said Albasini. "I gave it everything."
The stage win marks Albasini's third stage win of the 2012 season, adding to his two stage wins and overall victory at Volta a Catalunya.
"This has been a really good year for me," remarked Albasini. "I want to continue like this. It's hard to pinpoint the reason why things are going well. I've learned that when you're going well, you go well and don't ask about it too much. Just go with it and enjoy the good form. All I know for sure is that I'm enjoying a good year and so is my team - and that's it."