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"When it came down to a select group of 30 riders, Nino was the only rider from the team who was still there. That’s when I realised - we have a very talented athlete in this group," Stephens says

Photo: Michal Cerveny, Specialized










03.05.2014 @ 16:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cross country world champion Nino Schurter has got the chance to ride the Tour de Romandie for the Orica-GreenEDGE team to see if he can make a career on the road. Yesterday he proved that he has the potential to do well when he surprised his sports director Neil Stephens by climbing really well in the queen stage of the race.


ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Albasini ceded the yellow race leader’s jersey to Simon Spilak (Katusha) on the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie. The Swiss rider moved into yellow on Thursday following back-to-back stage wins but admitted he saw little chance of wearing the jersey beyond stage three due to the mountainous nature of the day’s course. Following the second of four category one ascents, Albasini lost contact with the peloton.


“We were realistic about Michael’s chances,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “Although he knew that he would likely lose the jersey, he fought right to the end. He was four minutes down on the top of the second climb. All the way through the valley, Brett Lancaster helped him chase in a small group. They got back to within two minutes but that was the start of the next climb. We knew it was over then.”


Nino Schurter was the top finisher for the Australian outfit in Aigle. The Mountain Bike World Champion survived the first two climbs in the reduced bunch before a mechanical on the third climb forced him roadside to stop for assistance. By the time Schurter was back on his bike, the race had ridden away from  him.


“Nino really surprised me,” said Stephens. “I said to him before the start that I wasn’t sure how to categorise him today in terms of the work that needed to be done. We’re still learning about his capacities and he’s learning about himself on the road as well. I didn’t expect him to last as long as he did. When it came down to a select group of 30 riders, Nino was the only rider from the team who was still there. That’s when I realised – we have a very talented athlete in this group.”


Although Albasini started the day in yellow, Cameron Meyer was the team’s protected rider on stage three. Harbouring general classification ambitions, Meyer had hoped for a better showing on the key stage of the six day Swiss tour. In the end, he slotted into 51st place, 16’21 behind Spilak.


“Cameron wasn’t on a great day,” admitted Stephens. “Hats off to him for his effort. He got distanced over the second climb but fought back on the descent. He managed to catch the bunch before the start of the third climb. Two kilometres up, he lost contact again. Shortly after that, Nino had a mechancal. That was it for our day in terms of any result aspirations.”


Vicenzo Niabli (Astana) was the first of the favourites to attack. Chris Froome (Team Sky) countered, riding up to the Italian. The two worked together until Nibali cracked, leaving Froome alone in the lead. Although Spilak wasn’t able to follow Froome’s initial acceleration, he managed to bridge across to the Briton after Nibali fallen off pace. Once Spilak made contact with Froome, he was there to say. The duo came to the finish with a 57” advantage on a five rider chase group, and Spilak bested Froome in the sprint to the line. 



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