Like clockwork – Albasini wins in Tour de Romandie

'I chose the right wheels,' says Orica-Scott's stage 1 winner

For Mark Cavendish, his specialty is Tour de France sprints; for Alejandro Valverde, it's almost anything he turns his hand to; but for Michael Albasini, it's racing on home roads, and especially the Tour Romandie.

On Wednesday's stage 1 from Aigle to Champery, the Orica-Scott rider picked up his seventh-ever stage win at the race with a well-timed sprint that saw off Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar).

The secret, according to the 36-year-old who sits only behind Mario Cipollini in terms of wins in Romandie, is keeping motivation after the Ardennes Classics.

"I usually peak my form at the Ardennes Classics. There's not that many guys who come from the Ardennes and then race here,” he modestly told Cyclingnews.

"Those races make you sharp and they give you a lot of race rhythm. So if you can keep your motivation up then you can do really well here. I reckon that's the key."

There's more to just turning up when it comes to winning at the WorldTour level and Albasini showed poise and power as he took on his rivals as the race headed into Champery.

Orica used Roman Kreuziger and Damien Howson on the final climb, with both men keeping the pace high and neutralizing any late moves before Albasini surfed the wheels and then struck for home as his rivals hesitated.

"I chose the right wheels," he said. "First I followed Felline, but he got caught up so I switched to Ulissi's wheel. Then they all hesitated with around 300 metres to go. There was a marking on the road with painted stripes and it was wet. That caused hesitation, and in these sort of finishes, with lots of corners, if you hit out at the right time, then you can create a gap that's hard to close."

Albasini's palmares are often brushed over, but for a rider who lived in the shadow of compatriot Fabian Cancellara and his impressive career, the Orica rider's achievements are certainly worth recognising. For many years he has been a consistent performer in the Classics, and this year was no exception with third in Amstel, fifth in Fleche Wallonne and seventh in Liege-Bastogne-Liege his rewards. When asked if this Romandie win was revenge after missing out in the Ardennes, he remained modest to a fault.

"It doesn't feel like revenge," he said. "In the end I had a really good Classics campaign. In the end it could have been a bit better but for a couple of little mistakes, but in the end if you had told me that I would have had three top 10s in the Ardennes, then I would have been happy."

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