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“I don’t get many opportunities to ride for the win myself during the year. The Flèche Wallonne is one and in general I manage to score one or two wins per year with the team.”

Photo: Sirotti

FLECHE WALLONNE

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MICHAEL ALBASINI

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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14.04.2016 @ 20:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A veteran north of 35-years of age riding for Orica-GreenEdge, an under-publicized specialist of the classics, dedicated but never a winner until this year: after Mathew Hayman on Paris-Roubaix, meet Michael Albasini, the outsider not to be overlooked ahead of the Fléche Wallonne!

 

The results speak for themselves: 7th in 2008, 9th in 2009, 10th in 2010, 11th in 2011, 2nd in 2012,21st in 2013 (a rare occurrence, far from the top 10…), 7th in 2014, 3rd in 2015. In modern cycling it is hard to find consistency at the finish of a classic similar to that of Michael Albasini’s at the Mur de Huy! And yet, last year, on the eve of the race his sporting director Matt White, regretted that the introduction of the côte de Cherave late in the race didn’t work to the advantage of his Swiss team leader, who “is not a climber but he is a tough as nails rider who isn’t afraid of difficulties”,says White. The Australian technician thought he had already seen it all from his rider, who was part of the first Orica-GreenEdge recruitment class (2012) and of which there are still nine with the squad, including the team’s best known rider Simon Gerrans, who skips the Fléche Wallonne to focus on his preparation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège (winner in 2014). But Albasini, who was born in 1980, created a very pleasant surprise of finishing on the podium alongside veteran AlejandroValverde and newcomer Julian Alaphilippe last year.

 

In 2012, Albasini got Orica-GreenEdge headed in the direction by winning the Volta a Catalunya in March but since 2013 and a stage victory on Paris-Nice, he has become a specialist at being as invisible as possible at the start of a season before kicking it up a gear on the Ardennes classics. It was the same story this year when the Australian team decided to put in a long training camp in South Africa instead of racing in February. Then, as he does every year, Albasini raced in Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Basque Country to prepare for the Flèche Wallonne. 

 

“I don’t get many opportunities to ride for the win myself during the year”, he explains. “The Flèche Wallonne is one and in general I manage to score one or two wins per year with the team.”

 

It is often the Tour de Romandie, which follows the Ardennes classics where he claims a bit of notoriety in his country where more often it has been Fabian Cancellara in the spotlight for the past 15 years. 

 

“The rest of the time," continues the discreet rider from Landiswil, in the Berne canton, "the team knows that it can count on me. I am still competitive. I can still work for the others and when I have a job to do, I do it 100%. I am not selfish. The leaders need to have confidence in their team mates. They know that I will do the work that I am being paid to do.”

 

Today Albasini is thought as an insurance policy for his employer, of which he reminds Mathew Hayman. He compares his role to those of the “lanzichenecchi”, the Swiss mercenaries at the start of the Renaissance who fought for the Holy-Empire sparing no sacrifice for great pay. This tradition of the Swiss Guards lives on… and so does Michael Albasini at Orica-GreenEdge.

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