One Day, Two Wins

08 March 2013

Michael Albasini wins stage four of Paris-Nice, first across the line in bunch sprint over elite group that formed over the last two of seven categorized climb, finishing ahead of Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana Pro Team) and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Otherwise, Matt Goss, teammate and sprinter of the ORICA-GreenEDGE’s squad engaged on the Tirreno-Adriatico, takes the stage victory, outsprinting all tenors of the discipline.



Michael Albasini sprints to Victory Photo Credits : ©TDWsport.com
 

“I actually wasn’t sure of my condition when I came here,” admitted Albasini. “I was feeling good, but we couldn’t race Lugano and my last race before that was three weeks ago last Wednesday. Without racing, it’s hard to understand what’s going on with your body. I’m super happy to start the season with an early, important win. I’m a bit surprised, too.”

“It’s even nicer to win on a day when we also won with [Matt] Goss in Tirreno,” Albasini added. “It’s really perfect. It’s important to keep the wins going like we did last year.”

Weather was without any compromise today: rain, more rain and still rain on the stage four of Paris-Nice. And the road book is not smoother, announcing seven climbs, including four second category: no offense to the sprinters, flat stages are more than a memory. To make things worse, two other climbs as steep as violent were placed at the end of the stage, promising a final even more nervous than yesterday.

Earlier in the stage Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Gianni Meersman (Omega) Johann Tschopp (IAM Cycling), Hubert Dupont (AG2R), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel), Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank) and Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) and broken clear, building up a lead of over four minutes. Johann Tschopp claimed maximum points on the first five categorized climbs but by the foot of the penultimate climb of the Col de Talencieux, the gap was down to less than two minutes.

The climbs succession in the second part of the stage to Saint-Vallier meant the end of the breakaway animated by Thomas Voeckler and Johann Tschopp. It mainly reduces the pack to forty riders still in a position to fight for victory. Despite a series of attack the remnants of the bunch caught the break at the foot of the day’s final climb the Cote de la Sizeranne. Among them, Michael Albasini was the fastest in the sprint of the last five hundred meters while American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) finished 6th and retained his three second lead in the race.

“At the end, there was a roundabout 500 metres or so from the finish,” noted Albasini. “There were two guys about 50 metres ahead at the point. They started sprinting, and I knew I had to go. If I didn’t, it would have been too late. I opened my sprint and went full gas. Once I overtook them, I was able to maintain control all the way to the line.”



Michael Albasini
 Photo Credits : ©TDWsport.com 

On the other side of the Alps, though with the same weather was a rainy stage of 230 kms. It would be in these wet conditions that team ORICA-GreenEDGE’s super-sprinter Matt Goss would outsprint all other tenors such as Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).


Matt Goss Sprints to Victory
 Photo Credits : ©TDWsport.com


“This is the first road stage I’ve done in Europe this year,” said Goss. “To come away with the win is great. It’s huge for my motivation and confidence, and it’s hopefully great for the team as well. With the win also in Paris-Nice today, we’re all on a bit of a high at the moment. It’s a great day for ORICA-GreenEDGE.”

Mark Cavendish and sprint rival Andre Greipel were forced to settle for minor places, 5th and 7th respectively, while the Brit managed to retain his overall lead after the 232km stage.

Heavy rain played havoc during the stage but having been earmarked as the first battle royale between the world’s best sprinters there was little let up after an early break was caught inside the final 30 kilometres.
 
“Before the start of the stage, we all had a chat,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “I sat down with the team and told them that while Gossy is in good shape, we weren’t going to assume the role as a team with a top sprinter. We didn’t go great yesterday. We didn’t have the lead. Gossy hadn’t won a bike race yet this year. I wanted to downplay our chances to our competitors and the media. We didn’t put the pressure on, but of course, if we were in the hunt, we’d ride for Gossy.”
 
Despite Greipel and Cavendish looking for early bragging rights in their first duel of the 2013 season it was Peter Sagan’s Cannondale team who marshalled the peloton as they approached the final 10 kilometres. Greipel’s Lotto Belisol squad took over at the front of the peloton when Cannondale began to wilt but despite numerical superiority, it was Goss who proved the freshest on the day. Congrats !
 
Goss credits his teammates with following the pre-race plan to perfectly position him for the win.
 


Matt Goss
 Photo Credits : ©TDWsport.com

 
“We had specific markers,” explained Goss. “We wanted to come to the front at 1.8 kilometres before we went over an overpass. After the overpass, there was a right hand turn. It was the last corner at one kilometre to go. We knew if we weren’t in the top ten around that corner, we’d have no chance to win the race.”

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