Bradley Wiggins signs autographs before the commencement of Stage 13. Lalo R. Villar/AP/Press Association Images

La Vuelta: thirteen proves a lucky number for Albasini and Roche

Swiss rider Michael Albasini took the thirteenth stage of this year’s Vuelta a España, sprinting clear from a twenty-man breakaway that included GC contender Daniel Morena and Ireland’s Nicolas Roche.

THE LOSS OF Mark Cavendish and Konstantin Svitsov may have cast a pall over HTC-Highroad’s efforts in this year’s Vuelta, but a win for one of the team’s relatively unheralded domestique riders, Michael Albasini, on today’s challenging 158km route through the mountains of Galicia, means that the injury-stricken team has now collected two Grand Tour stages in under a week.

Building on the success of Tony Martin in the Individual Time Trial (ICC), Albasini managed to secure a place in a sizeable, twenty-man breakaway that included the likes of General Classification (GC) contenders Daniel Moreno and Nicolas Roche. With the leading group containing enough climbing talent to ensure the it remained separated from the main peloton, the final sprint was contested in the absence of any sprint specialists.

Albasini, who’d attempted an attack with four kilometres to go, somehow found the strength to out-sprint Liquigas’s Eros Capecchi and Katusha’s Daniel Moreno in the home straight.

While Daniel Martin remains in 23rd place heading into tomorrow’s stage, Roche’s impressive work in the breakaway sees him vaulted into 14th position, only 2’15” down on the race leader, Sky’s Bradley Wiggins. Having been eclipsed by his cousin in recent days, the AG2R principal suddenly looks very much in contention for a top-five finish in the GC.

Tomorrow will see the peloton negotiate the first of two consecutive mountaintop finishes ahead of Monday’s final rest day.

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