Time trial specialist Rafael Reis (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) unsurprisingly came out on top during the opening prologue of the Volta a Portugal, the 30-year-old beating his teammate, GC contender Mauricio Moreira, to the win by nine seconds.
21-year-old Briton Oliver Rees (Trinity Racing) put in a strong ride on the 5.4km course to take third place, fractions of a second behind Moreira, while American Joey Rosskopf (Human Powered Health) was fourth at 11 seconds.
Fellow US rider Barry Miller, riding for the little-known Angolan squad BAI-Sicasal-Petro de Luanda, kicked off the race as first man down the start ramp. Soon afterwards, former WorldTour men Tiago Machado (Rádio Popular-Paredes-Boavista) and Juan José Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi) set the quickest times, but it was Rosskopf who took the hot seat after 50 minutes of racing.
He would be bested by Reis, though, who added a seventh stage win – and his fourth prologue victory – to his Volta palmarès at an average speed of 52.4kph. Moreira and Rees would be the only men to get within 10 seconds of him, the Uruguayan closest at just inside a nine-second deficit.
Elsewhere in the nascent GC battle, Moreira and Reis' teammate Federico Figueiredo took 64th place at 35 seconds. The 31-year-old isn't a strong time triallist and has overcome poor TT efforts to take third and fifth overall in the last two editions of the race. Fellow Glassdrive rider Antonio Carvalho, who has five Volta top-10 places to his name, fared better with a 25th place, 22 seconds down.
36-year-old Machado – once of RadioShack and Katusha and riding his last Volta – took 11 th place at 17 seconds. Fellow golden oldie, 40-year-old 2013 winner Alejandro Marque (Atum General-Tavira-Maria Nova Hotel) took 32nd at 24 seconds. Efapel leader Joaquim Silva finished in 20th, ceding 20 seconds to Reis.
Meanwhile, for the first time in a decade, the powerhouse team W52-FC Porto are absent from the race. Having won eight of the last nine Voltas, the team – along with two-time defending champion Amaro Antunes – are currently suspended from racing by the UCI having been caught in a wide-ranging police-led doping case.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.
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