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Dutchman gives US ProContinental team its first top 10 European result
Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) delivered his squad its first top-10 result on European soil after he sprinted to eighth place on the final road stage of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on Saturday afternoon.
The Dutchman, who joined the American ProContinental outfit this year, was the only non-ProTeam rider to finish in the top 10 on the 167.3km stage from Albufeira to Tavira. Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) collected his first race win of the season, ahead of Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Anthony Ravard (Ag2R-La Mondiale). Van Poppel expressed his satisfaction with his result, praising his teammates for their work to set him up for the sprint finish.
"The team really protected me today and I was able to bomb the last four corners," said Van Poppel after the stage. "I'm happy with the top 10 finish today. Our goal is to continue racing hard and tomorrow we get another chance to do just that. We're looking forward to Sunday's time trial."
Van Poppel's result was a welcomed by his UnitedHealthcare, who has found itself caught up in a number of with frustrating crashes throughout the race. US rider Brad White remains in the race after his stage 2 accident, while Christian Meier and Charly Wegelius were involved in a late race crash on Saturday. Despite their misfortune, UnitedHealthcare General Manager and Directeur Sportif Mike Tamayo expressed his satisfaction with the squad's performance in their first major test against ProTour competition.
"The [race] has lived up to expectations, and it has been a great race so far. We're pleased with Boy's top 10 finish today," he said. "This field is outstanding and I'm proud of the way our guys are racing. This team never stops working together and it showed again today."
The team also has the opportunity to secure a top 10 position in the final general classification, with Australian Rory Sutherland sitting 21st overall, 51 seconds behind race leader Steve Cummings (Team Sky) but just 20 second off the overall time of Tiago Machado (RadioShack), who sits in 10th overall. Sutherland will line up for the final stage individual time trial only one second from a top 20 position. He is poised behind a group of three riders: Sebastian Langeveld and Steven Kruijswijk of Rabobank, and Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep).
Stephen Cummings (Team Sky) will face a tough battle to retain his overall lead on the 17.2km time trial from Lagoa - Portimão. The Briton sits six seconds ahead of defending champion Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard) and a further four seconds clear of Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad).
Following the Volta a Algarve, UnitedHealthcare's next European race will be the Clasica de Almeria on February 27.