Stage 3 - 2010 Tour of Britain
September 11-18; UCI 2.1 | Race Reports Home
Stage 3: Newtown to Swansea (93 miles, Sept 13)
Michael Albasini Team HTC-Columbia claims the stage
Team Columbia HTC's Michael Albasini overcame extremely challenging conditions to take not only the stage win but the overall lead as the Tour of Britain's third stage crossed Wales, following a predominantly southerly route from Newtown in the Welsh Borders to Swansea.
With a largely rolling profile, the stage included two potentially critical climbs, the long and exposed Black Mountain at 112km and the short but formidably steep Constitution Hill, to be ridden just over 2km from the finish. However, the weather conspired to turn an already intimidating stage into one which once again saw the whole race turned on its head.
Despite the previous day's seismic movements in the overall standings, the riders had no time to settle before the first attacks went away, heralding yet another really tough day in the saddle and over 45 km slid by in the first hour. Sky were prominent at the front, defending Greg Henderson's lead and Henderson himself was in the thick of the action at the first sprint, coming in fourth behind Heinrich Haussler.
See the race unfold with these exclusive photos of stage 3
Finally, a break stuck soon after Llandrindod Wells. Initiated by Garmin's Cameron Meyer and Vacansoleil's Pim Lighart, the group eventually totaled 9 rider including Simon Richardson, Mark McNally, Elia Favilli, Albert Timmer, Stijn Neirynck, Ian Bibby and Evan Oliphant. None presented any immediate danger to the race leader, Greg Henderson and Team Sky were initially happy to let them go.
Half an hour's hard driving in worsening conditions, with rain coming on top of a headwind, saw the break establish a lead of over three minutes and the next half an hour saw more gains on the approaches to the Black Mountain climb. Once on the mountain, the race really opened up, with Cameron Meyer taking a chance on a solo win going away on his own from the break and Team Columbia and Vacansoleil suddenly taking over from Sky and leading the chase at the head of the peloton.
Approaching the top of the climb, the race went into thick, low cloud and the main field began to fragment. Greg Henderson was in difficulty and Tony Martin and Michael Albasini, the Columbia HTC duo closest to the overall lead, moved clear in a group of perhaps 15 riders which broke away from the peloton.
On the technical descent off the summit, standing water, heavy rain and blustery winds really made things extremely treacherous. With crashes adding to the main field's problems, the race continued to fragment. Meanwhile, up front, Cameron Meyer was still away alone at over a minute clear, with six or seven riders - the remnants of the original break - chasing with Martin and Albasinin closing them down.
One rider who didn't make it off the Black Mountain was Darren Lapthorne of Rapha-Condor-Sharp, who fell and broke his collarbone. Despite the many distractions of tough roads and terrible conditions, the eight chasers finally caught Meyer on the outskirts of Swansea and the Columbia HTC riders Tony Martin and Michael Albasini, who had joined them, were soon the ones leading the pace making.
Martin pulled off at the bottom of Constitution Hill, his job well and truly done. He'd propelled Albesini well clear of Henderson and effectively into yellow. Now it was down to Albesini to finish the job on the amazing Constitution Hill, a very steep and cobbled nightmare for the wet and tired riders. The Swiss rider inched clear of the rest of the break all the way up and over the top he was 10 seconds clear with just under 2km to go to the finish.
Suddenly the stage was his to win and the heroic late efforts he and team-mate Martin had put in were duly rewarded with the stage victory. It had been a day of spectacularly brave and testing riding, in short a classic Tour of Britain stage.
Having claimed second to Greg Henderson the day before, Albasani was one of only a handful of riders who had begun the day with realistic hopes of taking the race lead and with Henderson lost in the maelstrom of tired riders, strung out over some 10km, the Swiss rider duly donned the yellow jersey at the finish. He now leads Henderson by over a minute. Team Sky have suddenly got a lot to do to win their home Tour.
Post-Race Rider Interviews
Stage Winner Michael Albasini on his second GC win (the other is the Tour of Austria).
"From the start I feel really good and our tactic was to make the race fast and hard so we can try something on the longer climb. So for 50 kilometres we were attacking and attacking and then the climb my team good pace and together with the riders from Vacansoleil we ride really hard up the climb and so it was a small group at the top. Then the downhill, it was wet and fast and me and Tony Martin we rode full gas and was always pedalling and make a small gap and went away. We then try to chase the leading group to maybe take some seconds in the hot spot sprint but then we see that nobody was coming from behind and we go for the finish too."
Stage winner and new race leader, Michael Albasini Team HTC-Columbia
"Tony did a really good job and for us it was a really hard 40k and for the last 10k, I maybe did two turns and Tony did the rest so I can recover for the final climb and to make the GC. Now I have the yellow jersey, I think I can keep it. It would be cool to bring the jersey to London and we have a really strong HTC-Columbia team and we are always attacking and on the climb, even the sprinters are riding tempo. Having teammates like Tony Martin, Grabsch, Pinotti, Renshaw and Greipel, I am sure we can do it."
"We did not really attack on the climb but were going faster and faster, and then we get away on the downhill and catch the break maybe one or two kilometres from the intermediate sprint. So the first goal was to get some seconds in the sprint and at this point, I did not know there was still one rider in the front. We catch him maybe coming into the city. On the climb at the end I go my own tempo and keep something in reserve in case someone attack. Then, I saw nobody was coming so I go a little big faster and at the top, I look back and see nobody, then I was sure I could do it."
"We saw some pictures in the race booklet of the big climb at the finish and it looked impressive and although it is only 200 or 300 metres, they are hard metres. Because I was the first rider onto the hill, I could choose my line on the cobbles and the left side there were less cobbles."
Asked who the big danger is to his jersey, he replied "I think Richie Porte, he is in good shape as we saw the first two days but I think with my team, we can follow him and bring the jersey to the finish".
Michael Albasini on Constitution Hill - either the crowd's leaning, or it's steep!
Pre-stage rider interview - Peter Smith (Raleigh):
A young Aussie rider drafted into the Raleigh team for 2010 is taking part in his biggest race yet, the Tour of Britain. British Cycling spoke to him before the start and he started by saying “this is easily the biggest race I have ever done. I was relishing the opportunity when I was selected for Raleigh and it is a pretty slick operation.”
“The racing is more controlled but noticeably 3 or 4 k an hour faster. The British racing is hard, you can’t deny that, but the racing here is harder but harder for longer. The pace stays on. Yesterday was savage. We were truddling along at 65k an hour along on the flat while the break was trying to get established. Essentially, the whole bunch wanted to be in that break yesterday so when it is like that, it is furious at the start and you just have to hang on and get through. Hopefully, if you’re in the right spot, you can be part of it but the opening part of the stage is furious.”
“I was a lot more comfortable yesterday on the climbs than on stage 1. Our group was resigned to riding at a training ride pace once the break had gone. I don’t think these big teams though have opened up the taps yet so it will be interesting to see how it is when they do that.”
Constitution Hill - a rider grinds past the huge crowd
Brief Results (Full Results)
1 Michael Albasini Team HTC-Columbia 03:40:37
2 Ian Bibby Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta @ 00:08
3 Stijn Neirynck Topsport Vlaanderen st
4 Cameron Meyer Garmin-Transitions @ 00:21
5 Mark McNally AN Post Sean Kelly @ 00:28
6 Simon Richardson Sigma Sport-Specialized @ 00:31
7 Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank @ 01:15
8 Jack Bauer Endura Racing @ 01:16
9 Tony Martin Team HTC-Columbia @ 01:18
10 Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil Pro Cycling @ 01:24
1 Michael Albasini Team HTC-Columbia 10:57:01
2 Greg Henderson Sky Pro Cycling Team @ 01:26
3 Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank @ 01:28
4 Borut Bozic Vacansoleil Pro Cycling @ 01:41
5 Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil Pro Cycling @ 01:46
6 Michael Golas Vacansoleil Pro Cycling @ 02:08
7 Patrick Sinkewitz ISD-Neri Giambenini st
8 Travis Meyer Garmin-Transitions @ 02:10
9 Christian Meier Garmin-Transitions st
10 Robert Partridge Endura Racing @ 02:13