What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro Talk: HTC-Columbia’s Michael Albasini

Another rider sitting out the Greipel/Pinotti media mash-up at the HTC-Columbia team presentation was the cultured Swiss rider Michael Albasini. PEZ decided to get a few minutes of chatter to see what his plans were for the forthcoming Giro, and this is what he had to say …

PEZ: Are you looking forward to the Giro, or is it just going to hurt?
Michael Albasini: There was never a big stage race that wasn’t hard, especially in the Giro! We start on the flat and finish in the high mountains so it will be harder and harder every stage. The last week is really terrible, there are some really hard climbs there. For everyone it’s the same …

I think we can maybe win some stages in the flat with Andre, which means we would have less pressure for the rest of the race. Then it’s easier to think of a breakaway. It’s not so easy to get in a breakaway.

Personally, I hope to do good on one stage, maybe to win in a breakaway. That’s my objective for the Giro.

PEZ: Will you also be working for Greipel?
Michael Albasini: I will be there to help. Somebody has to chase down the breakaways. I will do my best to help Andre win as many stages as possible. There will be days when we need someone in the breakaways, if it isn’t going to be a sprint so that will also be a job. There will be a lot of work.

PEZ: How about your ambitions … maybe for a high GC place?
Michael Albasini: I don’t look at the overall. If I have the chance to be good in the mountains, I will try. But in the high mountains, the steep slopes, it’s really hard. Especially in Italy there are so many small, good climbers who are so fast in the mountains.

In the TTs, maybe I’m not such a big TT rider, but it’s also good for the climbers. I don’t really look to the GC.

PEZ: Last year you had a big win in Austria …
Michael Albasini: That (Tour of Austria) was my first stage race win. It had some high mountains. It was a good ride, but the Giro is three weeks. The other victories I had last year were also stages, in breakaways.

That’s where I can do well, I can catch the breakaway, be there, and then at the end, I’m a little bit faster. I can win races in this style. There’s often the opportunity for breakaways, especially in the middle of the Giro, because the finishes are uphill and maybe the sprinters’ teams aren’t interested.

PEZ: Can you guys match last year?
Michael Albasini: To win six stages like last time is really hard. but with Andre we have the possibility to win the same amount of stages. We have a rider like Pinotti, Hansen or me who can go in a breakaway. It’s possible to do the same as last year, but it’s hard…

PEZ: Do you get much advice from your father, an ex-pro rider?
Michael Albasini: Well, he’s going to the Tour of California. He’s in a different team, and of course we don’t swap tactics! When you’re in the race, you don’t think about it.

When I was in the under-23s he was the sports director for the national team so I raced with him there which was special.

PEZ: After the Giro, a little holiday?
Michael Albasini: No, it’s the Tour de Suisse for me which is a big goal. The idea is to finish the Giro in good shape because there is not much time to recover. After that, I’ll have a break.

Thanks to Michael for his time, and we wish him a safe ride round the Corsa Rosa.

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