Michael Albasini (Orica-Greenedge) won the final stage of the Tour de Romandie after winning the sprint ahead of his early breakaway companions, Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo). Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the race overall.
It was a long and hard stage from Ollon to Geneve, made more difficult by a torrential downpour and strong winds throughout the day. A break of 10 riders got away on the first climb of the day and some big names were part of the escape, including Albasini, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) among others.
Our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka squad were looking to set up Kristian Sbaragli (pictured above) for the sprint and so our African Team took responsibility for the chase. With no help from any other teams, our boys kept the gap around 2’00” for the majority of the stage.
It was only with around 20km to go that a few other teams decided to lend a hand in the chase. Unfortunately, it would be too little too late as Albasini, Amador and Kelderman just survived to take the podium positions respectively. As the peloton came sprinting toward the line, Sbaragli proved to be one of the fastest as he took 3rd from the bunch and 6th on the stage.
After doing some solid chase work throughout the stage, Merhawi Kudus would finish with the same time as the main group despite being caught up in a crash with 1km to go. This would mean our young Eritrean finished the race 17th overall and 3rd in the young rider classification. A promising result as Kudus is set to start his first Giro d’Italia next week.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
I was focused on this stage and we did our best to try make it finish in a sprint. The team was amazing and I must say thanks to all of them. In the sprint we just couldn’t catch the final 3 riders from the break. I did a good sprint and finished in the first 3 positions from the bunch but it wasn’t a podium result.
Merhawi Kudus – Rider
It was a good week for the team and for me. I did some good training in Eritrea at altitude before this race, preparing for the Giro. I am happy with the sensations I have going into my first Giro.
Oli Cookson – Sport Director
To say it was a tough day is an understatement. The weather conditions were pretty bad from the start. We missed the big break on the first climb, it went away really quickly with some big riders in there. As soon as we knew, we reacted and tried to close the gap. We worked the whole day, the whole team was on the front with each rider doing his turn. Everyone gave all they had right to the end and we saw with the result at the end, Kristian almost catching them on the line. Of course, we are not happy but we are proud of the spirit, grit and determination shown by the team. No other teams helped us until the last 20km and as we saw, it was a bit late. The whole team should be proud, guys like Songezo Jim pulled, got dropped, came back and then pulled some more. So we are not happy but definitely proud of how we rode this week.