Kyle Murphy (Rally Cycling) won his first UCI professional race on stage 2 of the Volta a Portugal Santander, using a move in the breakaway to seal a solo victory on the cobblestones in Castelo Branco on Friday.
On Monday’s rest day, mid-way through the 11-day stage race, Murphy was tied for third in the points classification with Joni Brandão (W52/FC Porto), who was second on stage 2.
“Hot damn! First pro win today Volta a Portugal. Long time coming. Thank you to my family at home. Thank you to my teammates, and thank you to our incredible staff,” exclaimed Murphy on his Instagram feed.
In the opening hour of the 162.1km hilly contest, Murphy followed the wheel of Marvin Scheulen (LA Aluminum-LA Sport) and was then joined by Andrew Turner (SwiftCarbon) to form the lead group of the day. After extending the margin from the peloton to nearly 10 minutes, the sprinters’ teams went to work but failed to out-kick Murphy within the last kilometres. Murphy would cross the line with room to spare, Brandão finishing 12 seconds later and the peloton storming through another five seconds later.
“As soon as we had nine minutes I knew they had underestimated us. It was touch and go the last 10 kilometers, but we turned into a ripping tailwind and hot damn, that Felt AR just absolutely rips at speed,” Murphy, in his seventh year as a pro, said in a team statement.
“All I could think about is how rare these opportunities are and how badly I wanted to capitalize on it. When I crossed the line I was thinking about my family at home and how much I miss them. I was also thinking about how important a win in Portugal is for our staff and our sponsors.”
Murphy became the first American to win a stage of "A Grandíssima" since 2013, when Jake Keough won the final stage for UnitedHealthcare.
It was the third win and seventh top 10 of the season for Rally Cycling, the only team in the Volta field representing North America. Murphy finished third in the road race at US Pro Road Championships in June, on the podium alongside teammate and US Pro champion Joey Rosskopf. The other team victory was secured by Arvid de Kleijn on stage 1 of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.
"Winning is infectious and I’m extremely excited to see what else we can do," Murphy added on social media about the upcoming week in Portugal.
The last time he made headlines at a UCI race was at the GP Indurain when he was the first rider to be disqualified under the UCI's new littering rules. In the spring, riders began to be fined, docked ranking points and penalised time for discarding objects such as bidons and waste in a careless or dangerous manner or outside of new litter zones.
Murphy was pulled from the Spanish race with around 25 kilometres remaining when a commissaire saw him drop an empty energy gel wrapper outside of a designated waste zone, but the Rally rider says the wrapper fell when he was trying to put it into his jersey pocket and he was unaware that it dropped to the road.
The 82nd edition of the Portuguese stage race concludes August 15 with a 20.3km individual time trial in Viseu.
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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp for several minor league teams. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road and gravel rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).