Albasini makes breakthrough with first spring Classic podium
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Albasini makes breakthrough with first spring Classic podium

by VeloNation Press at 7:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Flèche Wallonne
 
Strong season continues for Swiss GreenEdge rider

Michael AlbasiniVolta a Catalunya winner Michael Albasini has continued to race at a new level in his career, finishing second on yesterday’s Flèche Wallonne and proving that he is now a bona fide Classics contender.

The Swiss rider was second-strongest on the final climb of the Mur de Huy. He couldn’t match the victor Joaquim Rodriguez, but was able to get the better of last year’s winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) plus the rest of the front group.

"It was a really great result for myself and the team," Albasini said of the outcome. "The guys placed me perfectly at every part of the race and made it possible for me to conserve my energy in the last part of the final climb."

Milan Sanremo winner Simon Gerrans was the team’s leader rider in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, but did not compete in yesterday’s race. That meant that Albasini was the protected rider. He repaid that trust by netting his best result to date in this kind of race.

His confidence was understandably boosted by the outcome. "It was the strongest guy who won today, but I still managed to get my first podium finish in a spring Classic - and I'm thrilled with that,” he said.

The result marks him out as genuine contender for this Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classic, which will also feature a series of power climbs. Gerrans will likely have protected status, particularly as he is fifth in the UCI WorldTour rankings and can pick up more points.

However Flèche Wallonne shows that Albasini also deserves to be considered an option for the win. He’s also got an interest in the WorldTour standings, having moved from tenth to eighth yesterday.

He is 38 points behind Gerrans’ total of 210.

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