Columbia-Highroad rider Michael Albasini took his fourth professional victory on Thursday in stage four of the Vuelta a País Vasco. The Swiss rider entered into the breakaway just six kilometres into the stage, and out-sprinted his two companions, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) for the victory 155km later.
It was Albasini's first win for Team Columbia-Highroad, which he joined at the start of 2009 after four seasons with the Liquigas team for which he tallied only three wins.
"Yesterday [Wednesday] was a very fast, tough stage, and today was equally tough in the first hour when the break formed," Albasini commented. "There was a big climb early on and I made sure I stayed close to the front, following the first eight or nine guys all the time. After the break finally formed we worked hard all day, but it was pretty clear we could stay away. The final sprint was complicated, I led it out from the front with 300 metres to go. Fortunately it all worked out."
For Albasini winning in the Basque Country confirms that he is back on track following a month-long period of uneven form.
"After Tirreno-Adriatico, I wasn't going well, one day I was good, the next day my legs felt empty. But here this was the first time I really felt as if I'm on top of my game again."
After the Tour of the Basque Country, Albasini's next big objective is to have a good ride in the Ardennes Classics.
"I hope that works out, but at the very least I can say is that today's given me a big boost to my morale. At the same time, it's nice to be able to get a win for Columbia-Highroad, as a way of saying thank you for believing in me as a rider."