• Michael Albasini celebrates his victory in the final stage of the Tour of Romandie (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Depsite leading a 10-man break for most of the day, Switzerland’s Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) edged out the competition to win the final stage of the Tour of Romandie, while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) sealed his second overall stage race victory for the 2016 race season.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Orica-GreenEDGE, Movistar Team
2 May 2016 - 10:21 AM 

After an agonisingly close second place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a third place on the first stage of Romandie, Albasini was happy to finally capitalise on his strong form.

Having won five stages in his home race over the past two years, last night’s final stage win made it three consecutive years of success and also saw Albasini walk home with the green jersey for the points classification. 

“I heard on the race radio that the gap was 17 seconds so I didn’t expect to see the BMC guy come flying past me but I thought his effort may die in the last 500 metres," Albasini said. “I launched my sprint a bit early with around 400 metres to go and thankfully it was just about enough.”

Albasini finished the 177.4km stage from Ollon to Geneve in four hours 13 minutes and 17 seconds, ahead of Andrey Amado (Movistar)in second and Wilco Kelderman  (LottoNL-Jumbo) in third.

Despite the difficult conditions throughout the week-long race Orica-GreenEDGE achieved their objective of winning a stage and giving opportunities to young riders such as Damien Howson and Jack Haig.

Howson was the team’s best placed rider in the overall general classification in 16th position behind race winner Quintana, rounding off an excellent week for the 23-year-old Australian who also spent a day in the best young rider's jersey.

“It was a fantastic day for us today, Michael (Albasini) really produced the goods," said sports director Neil Stephens. "He was out front all day long and we were actually preparing to put Daryl (Impey) into position for the sprint when Michael attacked again and held on for the win."

“It’s a great feeling to be going away from the race with a stage win, the points jersey and a 23-year-old in the top twenty of the general classification keeping company with some of the best riders in the world.” - Neil Stephens

The fifth and final stage of the 2016 Tour of Romandie began cold and fresh but thankfully without rain.

Ten riders, including Albasini, escaped very early in the stage and quickly developed a lead of over three minutes on the peloton after 40 kilometres of racing. This early move proved to be very interesting as the group included Chris Froome (Sky) who seemed to have rediscovered some form after winning yesterday’s Queen stage. 

The ten leaders worked together well for the first two hours of racing over rolling roads. However it was Albasini who was hungry for the intermediate sprint points taking the full compliment at 85 kilometres after beating Froome and Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quickstep) into submission.

With around 60 kilometres remaining the breakaway still had two minutes over the peloton. Team Dimension-Data and Movistar were beginning to take turns at the front of the main bunch as the intensity of the chase began to increase slightly.

Movistar had race leader Quintana sitting comfortably in the peloton and they were also represented within the leaders' group with Amador.

Eighteen kilometres from the finish in Geneva and Verona attacked from the lead group and was followed by Albasini and Kelderman. The three began to push on ahead and had a one-minute advantage over the peloton with 15 kilometres to go. The trio were joined by Amador just before the final ten kilometres.

As the four leaders passed under the flamme rouge the chasing peloton were only a few seconds behind when a crash occurred at the front of the bunch. Albasini kicked again and claimed the victory by more than a bike length.

Quintana rolled through with the bunch in 25th position, sealing his general classification win by 19 seconds over Thibault Pinot (FDJ) and Movistar team-mate Ion Izagirre who was caught in the crash in the final kilometre and was carried away by an ambulance. He was later cleared of any injuries aside from a cut on his lip.

“It's a bittersweet day, since Ion crashed and couldn't join us for the podium,” said Quintana before he knew the outcome of his team-mate’s crash.

“At times this victory seemed like it would be way harder to claim than it was at the end, especially before the TT, considering how strong our rivals for that day we thought they would be compared to us.” His thoughts then turned to the Tour de France.

"The Romandie win gives us confidence and calmness, and the whole group is strong, so no matter who we bring to the Tour, we'll be well protected. However, things can change before July and surely our rivals will bring powerful squads to the Tour. We will be just one team between many contenders.

“You ask me about the myth about one winning Romandie and going on to win the Tour - I hope that legend is true, so we can make the 'Yellow Dream' become real." - Nairo Quintana

Quintana will return to Colombia to train in the lead up to the Tour de France and spend some time with his family.

“Later on, we will decide which race suits me best for the month of June,” Quintana added. “What is clear to me is we've got a goal, we know how to work for it and we don't have to worry about what others do. We'll do our thing as good as we can so we can reach the start of the Tour in the best possible condition.”