Sprinter Andre Greipel was expected to bring in Omega Pharma-Lotto's first victory of the season, and when it didn't work out at the Tour Down Under, the pressure was on at the Tour of the Algarve. After a false start in Australia, the team has now claimed two stage wins in Portugal, with Greipel finally bringing in his first stage win on Saturday.
With both Greipel and Philippe Gilbert lining up in the Algarve, the Belgian team correctly reckoned that its time had come. The first stage of the race was predicted to finish in a mass sprint and to favour Greipel, but instead it was Gilbert who notched up Omega Pharma-Lotto's first win of the season. The team later disclosed that the last-minute attack by Gilbert was planned.
The Belgian held on to the leader's jersey for two stages, but lost it on Friday's mountaintop finish. After that, the team was ready to take a chance again on Saturday.
“The stage was very fast, but today we didn't need to do any chase work,” Greipel wrote on his personal website. “Since one rider in the lead group was dangerously close to the leader's jersey, Sky had to do the work. Everything came back together about 10 km before the finish.
“Then for the first time we brought the Omega Pharma-Lotto sprint train into action and thanks to the team's nearly perfect preparations, I could bring in my first win of the season in my new jersey.”
He concluded, “Of course I am very happy, but also a bit relieved. The first win is always important for the morale.”
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