Blanco Pro Cycling has continued to deliver results in the early part of the season with Paul Martens taking a crafty victory on the opening day at Volta ao Algarve. Martens' detailed knowledge of the technical finale gave him options and he choose wisely, outfoxing the sprinters, including his teammate Theo Bos by jumping clear with RadioShack Leopard's Tiago Machado inside the final kilometre.
Martens and Machado just held off the charging peloton with Martens taking the win, Machado second and Bos winning the bunch sprint for third - with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) taking sixth in the hectic dash to the line. The 29-year-old Martens was unsurprisingly enjoying his first official outing of the year as he pulled on the race leader's jersey heading into tomorrow's 195km stage - which should end in another bunch sprint.
"Despite being my first race of the year, I was well aware of the arrival of other years and knew I could win both as sprinter and as an attacker," said Martens to Biciciclismo.
The team will no doubt enter the coming days with an extra level of confidence after notching up win number four with Tom-Jelte Slagter's stage and overall victory at Tour Down Under followed by Lars Boom's dominant time trial win at last week's Tour Méditerranéen.
The Dutch squad continues to look for a sponsor to replace "Blanco" and the team has proved hungry to impress in the early months of the professional season.
"I am not a guy who wins a lot of races" said an elated Martens shortly after the finish. "We have done great as a team. I was in front of the bunch when Machado jumped. Tom Leezer with Theo Bos in his wheel where behind me to leave the gap. I knew the final 500 meters where downhill so I kept his wheel for my final jump."
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