Michael Albasini won the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Monday, 19th. The 31-year-old-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 kilometers from the finish.
“It’s great to get the win,” said Albasini on Monday. “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.”
“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 Vittorio Algeri - Sports Director – 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.”
Albasini wearing the Leader's Jersey ©Graham Watson
Albasini walked away from stage one with the leader’s jersey, mountain’s jersey and point’s jersey and got ready to give GreenEDGE its second victory in the second day of racing. Wearing the race leader's jersey, Albasini won the field sprint from an elite group of riders that had survived the first category Alt dels Angels climb just before the finish in Girona.
“It was fantastic to win yesterday and have the leader’s jersey today,” said Albasini. “To win a stage in the jersey is a good feeling. I’m happy to pay back my teammates with one more victory after they worked so hard for me the whole day.”
It was a hard-earned victory for GreenEDGE, who once again started the day with a two-pronged approach.
“We had two objectives today,” explained Sports Director Neil Stephens. “Our first objective was a bit out of our hands – it involved getting Allan Davis over the final climb so that he could contest the sprint. This was a really high expectation, and it didn’t happen. Our second objective was to maintain the race lead. We did that, and amazingly we still managed to take the stage win.”
Albasini was the final rider to crest over the Alt dels Angels with the front group. As three riders went up the road, he kept calm on the descent knowing that he was one of the fastest finishers in the bunch should the move come back to the field.
“I went so hard on the uphill, and I knew there were no pure sprinters left,” said Albasini. “I thought this made me one of the fastest in the small bunch. I suffered a lot on the last climb, so I wasn’t sure if my legs were fresh for the sprint. I thought Dario Cataldo – Omega Pharma – Quickstep - would be one of the fastest guys, so I went on his wheel. When he moved up, I followed, and in the end, he gave me the perfect lead-out. The sprint could not have gone better for me.”
Albasini wins the second stage of Catalunya Tour. ©Graham Watson
The field faces the toughest stage of the race tomorrow. The Queen stage is the longest of the week with two category 1 climbs and two hors category climbs, concluding with a summit finish.
“I was happy yesterday with the first stage win,” noted Albasini. “Two stages is even better. The team has really come together well. Tomorrow is a hard day with some really tough climbs. I hope to enjoy one more day in the leader’s jersey.”