Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) claimed his biggest career triumph to date after a short but hardfought final stage through the hills just outside Barcelona.
In what was the race’s fourth and final small group sprint, the stage win was taken by France’s Julien Simon – already victorious on stage five in what has been an exceptional race for his Saur-Sojasun squad.
As the race approached the stage finish in Barcelona’s posh Sarria suburb on the city’s north-east side, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) tried for a successful repeat run of his stage six solo breakaway. He failed to succeed, but Samu has come away with a second place overall and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s first victory of the season (on Saturday) which is no mean achievement.
Albasini, though, has reaped the biggest prize, ahead of Sanchez and Belgium’s Jurgen Van Broeck, whilst Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda), regularly in the top three overall at Catalunya, has had to settle for fourth this time round. Fifth on GC was Sky’s stage winner, Rigoberto Uran.
Whilst Albasini’s victory is something of a surprise – the 31-year-oldalmost undoubtably benefited from the semi-cancellation of Wednesday’s high mountain stage – the Swiss veteran is still a deserving winner.
On stage four and stage five, both with very tough finishes, the former Tour of Britain winner (who has also stages in the Vuelta a España, Vuela al País Vasco and Tour de Suisse) could not be faulted tactically, managing to fend off numerous attacks whilst almost completely isolated from his team.
For GreenEdge, Catalonia is another big success. Whilst perhaps lacking a top GC name for the Grand Tours which may see them take more of a back seat come the Giro and tour, they have already won their country’s biggest home race – the Tour Down Under – as well as a major Classic (Milan-San Remo) and a major stage race in Spain. As debut seasons go, so far GreenEdge’s could hardly have gone better.
Tour of Catalonia 2012, stage seven: Badalona Centre Comercial Màgic to Barcelona (Sarrià), 119.8km
1. Julien Simon (Fra) Saur-Sojasun in 2-47-02
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky
5. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
9. Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
10. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha all same time
Final overall classification
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) GreenEdge in 24-15-45
2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-30
3. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 1-32
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Barracuda at 1-32
5. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 1-32
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1-32
7. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana at 1-32
8. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM at 1-32
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-32
10. Sergio Pardilla Spa) Movistar Team at 1-32