Martin Elmiger's fourth national Swiss road race title was the first for his IAM Cycling team, which makes its Tour de France debut on Saturday. Elmiger, who had previously won in 2001, 2005 and 2010, proved too fast against Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and Steve Morabito (BMC) in a three man sprint finish, after 198km of racing.
It was the first win of 2014 for Elmiger and his first victory since he won the overall of the Tour du Limousin in 2013. With team founder and CEO of IAMFUNDS on the sidelines, Michel Thétaz, Elmiger capped a team effort by taking the win.
"I am the first to be surprised to have won this title," Elmiger said after the race. "But it really was a reward for the constant work all the guys did throughout the day. We were present in every escape with Reto Hollenstein, Pirmin Lang and Sébastien Reichenbach. We all had to hang in there since the course was very hard. On the last lap, I was still with Marcel Wyss. And when Morabito and Albasini attacked, I went with them.
"I stayed on the right wheel so during the sprint up the false flat for the finish, I still managed to pass Michaël at the last minute. I am really happy for IAM Cycling and this will allow us to start the Tour de France with the maximum of confidence," said Elmiger.
The Swiss rider only returned to racing at the star of this month after fracturing his left scaphoid at the Tour of Flanders in April. He is due to ride the Tour de France, which starts in Leeds this Saturday. It is the first Grand Tour for Elmiger since the 2010 Tour. The team will be lead by Frenchman and three-time stage winner Sylvain Chavanel.
Rubens Bertogliati, who shared the directeur sportif role along with Marcello Albasini, was overjoyed by Elmiger's victory.
"On a demanding course, it was necessary to save energy in order to win," Bertogliati said. "Martin Elmiger managed to win thanks to his deep experience. It will be wonderful to go to the Tour de France carrying the Swiss champion’s jersey in the team."