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Cycling: Orica look ahead as Albasini misses out

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

As the race for yellow jersey supremacy moves up a gear on Sunday's 15th stage, Orica-GreenEdge will be forgiven for looking even further to stage 16 on the Tour de France.

The Australian team has enjoyed "great" success on the 100th edition, according to team chief Shayne Bannan at the start of Saturday's stage, and came close to adding a third win hours later.

At the end of an entertaining 14th stage from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 23-year-old race debutant Matteo Trentin prevailed with a perfectly-timed sprint to beat Orica's Michael Albasini into second place.

It gave Omega-Pharma their fourth win of the 100th edition, following a brace for sprinter Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin's victory on the stage 11 time trial and was the first Italian win since Alessandro Petacchi's two-stage haul in 2010.

Orica had bagged their maiden win on the race thanks to Simon Gerrans on stage four and followed up with a stunning team time trial triumph the following day.

On Saturday Albasini was beaten fairly and squarely but the Swiss said: "We will keep trying to go for stage wins. The Tour is not over until Paris so everybody can have a go.

"Today it was up to me - I made it in the breakaway. I had a go and missed it by not much so I have to be happy with my performance today."

Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome, of Team Sky, came over the finish line with the main peloton and his chief rivals just over seven minutes adrift.

A day after the Kenyan-born Briton lost 1:09 to rivals Alberto Contador and Bauke Mollema, the overall contenders kept their powder dry ahead of Sunday's epic stage to the Ventoux.

Froome leads Dutchman Mollema (Belkin) by 2min 28sec and Spain's former two-time winner Contador (Saxo) by 2:45.

However the 242.5km-long 15th stage threatens to shake up the overall standings considerably.

It is the longest of the race and ends with the 20.8km climb to the summit of Ventoux, where hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line its exposed and lunar-like slopes.

Sky, including Tasmanian Richie Porte, may have shown chinks in their armour in the past week, but team chief David Brailsford was bullish when asked what tactics they would employ.

"We have no reason to be afraid of other teams at all," he said.

"Chris has already shown that he is climbing really well, time-trialling really well. He is in great shape and we are looking forward to it."

Although Froome would love to win atop one of the race's legendary climbs, he said his priority is stretching his lead over his rivals.

"I'm totally focused on the general classification, but of course it would be a dream to win at Mont Ventoux," said Froome, who won on the only previous summit finish of this edition at Ax-Trois-Domaines on stage eight.

Trentin, meanwhile, won thanks to fast legs, astute tactics and his understanding of what most cyclists fear -- adverse wind conditions.

"Today I just waited for the right moment. I saw it was windy and that anyone who sprinted before then would be at a disadvantage because the wind was too strong to sprint from longer than 200m," he said.

"I know that I can sprint good over 200m or a bit less. When I saw the 200 metre mark, I knew I had to go."

Orica's sprinter Matt Goss has yet to open his individual account on the race and there are few, barring the finale to the Champs Elysees in Paris, opportunities remaining.

Albasini, meanwhile, said Orica's eyes would be on Tuesday's 16th stage into Gap.

"That's another one that could suit me, but also Simon Gerrans, (Daryl) Impey or (Simon) Clarke," he added. "On these stages it's just important to have somebody in the front and try to go for the win."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130713/cycling-orica-look-ahead-albasini-misses-out