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Volta ao Algarve Stage 2 - Live Coverage

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Report: Jakobsen wins stage 1

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Geraint Thomas starts his season as a super-domestique

Stage 2 brings the Vuelta ao Algarve from Sagres to Alto da Fóia.

Stage 2 brings the Vuelta ao Algarve from Sagres to Alto da Fóia. (Image credit: Volta ao Algarve)
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As we pick up the action on stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve, there is a break of three riders with a lead of 2:40 over the peloton. Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) escaped after 10km or so, and the peloton has been content to grant this trio a degree of early freedom.

-140km

Schär, De Bondt and Pedersen covered 43km in the first hour of racing. They have just come through the first intermediate sprint at Aljezur and are now beginning the day's first classified climb, the category 3 Marmelete.

Earlier in the stage, Gerard Armillas (Efapel) made a game attempt to bridge across to the three escapees, but the Spaniard was unable to get any closer than 30 seconds and he has since relented. 

The Deceuninck-QuickStep team of Remco Evenepoel are prominent at the head of the peloton. Fresh from overall victory at the Vuelta a San Juan, the Belgian is among the favourites in Portugal. It surely won't have escaped his attention that his near contemporary Tadej Pogacar triumphed atop the Alto da Fóia a year ago en route to winning the Volta ao Algarve.

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel is gifted an Argentina national football jersey on the podium

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-133km

The peloton crests the summit of the day's first ascent, 2:33 down on the three leaders.

Vincenzo Nibali was feted at the start near the evocative port of Sagres when he was handed the "Prestige Award of the 46th Volta ao Algarve." The Italian is making his debut for Trek-Segafredo in Portugal and he looked sharp in the opening exchanges on Wednesday, occupying real estate near the head of the peloton when it briefly threatened to split on the run-in to the finish in Lagos. "A few riders had attacked, including Evenepoel, so I followed," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Then there was a false flat and the peloton reformed ahead of the sprint. My sensations? Good."

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

(Image credit: Trek)

Situation

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix

Peloton at 2:30

-120

After rolling along the perimeter of the Parque Natural de Sudoeste in the opening hour, the break is facing decidedly more rugged terrain since swinging eastwards to tackle the Marmelete. The race is now entering the hills of the Sierra de Monchique and the break's lead has fallen accordingly. The gap is now 1:35.

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) delivered a fine sprint to win in Lagos yesterday. It was the Dutch champion's second victory in as many years on the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, and he used his knowledge of the finishing straight to good effect on Wednesday, delaying his winning effort until the last possible moment.  "I love the finish because it's a long straight with plenty of room. This time, I was more closed-in than last year, but fortunately, I was able to get out," Jakobsen said afterwards. Daniel Ostanek has the full story here.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2020 - 71st Edition - 5th stage Paterna - Valencia 97,7 km - 09/02/2020 - Fabio Jakobsen (NED - Deceuninck - Quick Step) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-108km

Deceuninck-QuickStep's pace-making on the front saw the break's lead drop to just 15 seconds and the Belgian squad has since relented. None of the GC contenders will want to bring back the escapees at this early juncture, especially on such rolling, sinuous roads, and it looks as though De Bondt, Schär and Pedersen will be given an opportunity to stretch their lead out once again.

The escapees have nudged their lead back out to 35 seconds over the peloton as they approach the 100km to go banner.

The final climb of the category 1 Alto da Fóia (7.6km at 6.1%) has proved pivotal in recent editions of the Volta ao Algarve and this afternoon should be no different, especially as the approach to the finale is a little tougher than in years past. In a breathless final 20km, the peloton must tackle the category 3 Alferce and category 2 Pomba before hitting the haul to the line, where Pogacar emerged from the mist to win in 2019. It was a windswept afternoon on that occasion. For the time being, conditions are rather calmer in the Sierra de Monchique.

Tadej Pogacar wins on the Alto da Foia at the 2019 Volta ao Algarve.

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-92km

After two hours of racing, the average speed is 39kph.

Situation

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix)

Peloton at 1:05

The escapees are past the midway point of the stage and approaching the feed zone with a buffer of 1:40 over the peloton. Deceuninck-QuickStep have done the bulk of the policing thus far, given that Jakobsen holds the overall lead and Evenepoel has designs on winning the stage, but there are plenty of other squads with an interest in keeping the race together for a skirmish on the Alto da Foia. Team Ineos have two-time Volta ao Algarve winners Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas in their ranks, Dan Martin is here for Israel Start-Up Nation, Trek-Segafredo have Vincenzo Nibali and Bauke Mollema, and Astana line out with Miguel Angel Lopez and Luis Leon Sanchez. Other men to watch include Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and, of course, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

-82km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix)

Peloton at 2:00

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) have taken advantage of the temporary lull in the main field to nudge their lead past the two-minute mark once again.

Team Ineos announced this morning that Luke Rowe has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the squad until the end of 2023. The Welshman is currently in action in the Algarve, but he recently sat down with Stephen Farrand for an in-depth interview, which you can read here. "I feel I'm in that middle zone of my career; a lot of the learning has been done," Rowe said. "You keep striving to improve but now it's about getting the best out of myself, be that trying to win races myself or trying to support others winning. Or perhaps a mix of both."

Luke Rowe was one of the Team Ineos riders who succeeded in splitting up the bunch early in the wind

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-71km

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) are still holding a lead of 2 minutes as they approach the final 70km of the stage.

Calm before the storm in the main peloton and the escapees are taking advantage. Schär, Pedersen and De Bondt now have a lead of 2:15 on the bunch.

Elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula this afternoon, Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) has won stage 2 of the Ruta del Sol. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) retains the overall lead. Brief results and, in time, a full report, are available here.

-55km

W52/FC Porto are setting the tempo in the peloton, with Amaro Antunes in mind. The Portuguese rider placed 5th on the Alto da Foia last year after uncorking a stinging attack in the final kilometre.

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) is another man aiming to shine in today's finale. His teammate Philippe Gilbert has been suffering from illness in the lead-up to the Volta ao Algarve but he told Sporza at the start in Sagres today that he would try to ride as deep into the stage as he could in support of Wellens. "I haven't been able to train as well as I expected," Gilbert said. "I have been sick with flu the past week, like so many others riders and people."

Into the final 50km for Schär, Pedersen and De Bondt, who have 2:30 in hand on the peloton.

-43km

W52/FC Porto remain committed to the chase at the head of the peloton, though the escapees have stretched their lead out a little further, to 2:48.

-40km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix)

Peloton at 2:43

-38km

Delegations from Deceuninck-QuickStep and UAE Team Emirates have beaten a path to the front of the peloton, eager to ensure safe passage for their leaders to the foot of the Alto da Foia. 2:37 the gap.

-36km

The break's lead drops to 2 minutes on the first of a brace of uncategorised climbs that precede the category 3 Alferce. The intensity is rising in the peloton, where a gruppetto is forming out the back. Yellow jersey Fabio Jakobsen and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) are among the men to sit up.

-30km

Speaking to Eurosport before the start, Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) warned of the difficulty of the penultimate climb of Pomba. The brace of unclassified climbs beofre that finale are already taking a toll. The break's lead is down to 1:20.

UAE Team Emirates continue their forcing at the head of the peloton and their efforts have slashed the break's lead to just 40 seconds. De Bondt's grimace tells its own tale as he grinds against the gradient.

-29km

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) is positioned near the head of the bunch, climbing out of the saddle. This is the cyclo-cross world champion's first road race of the season. Next on the agenda is Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, followed by Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and the Volta a Catalunya.

Michael Schär (CCC Team) is the strongman in the front group, and his forcing proves too much for De Bondt, who loses contact. Casper Pedersen (Sunweb) grits his teeth and digs in, but the bunch is closing.

-28km

De Bondt sits up and awaits the peloton, which is now 38 seconds down on Schar and Pedersen. UAE Team Emirates' forcing on this succession of short, sharp climbs is whittling the bunch down to the size ahead of the finale.

Situation

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team) and Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb)



Peloton at 0:38

-24km

Schar and Pedersen negotiate a short descent and now they are approaching the base of the category 3 ascent of Alferce with a lead of 25 seconds over the bunch.

The reduced peloton closes to within sight of the two escapees on the lower slopes of the ascent of Alferce. Schar continues to lead Pedersen, but both men know they won't last much longer out in front here. 

UAE Team Emirates' forcing has rid the bunch of the sprinters, but it's notable that men like Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) are still on board. The Belgian's first major rendezvous of 2020 comes a week on Saturday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Mikkel Bjerg sets the tempo for UAE Team Emirates, while it's notable that Vincenzo Nibali is maintaining a watching brief near the head of the peloton.

-22km

Schär leads Pedersen over the top of the category 3 Alferce, with the peloton around 20 seconds behind.

-21km

Schär and Pedersen's adventure comes to an end and they are swept up by the peloton, where Deceuninck-QuickStep have moved up en masse.

The Team Ineos duo of Luke Rowe and Ben Swift have hit the front of the peloton and have stretched things out on the descent of Alferce.

-18km

Rowe swings off as the category 2 ascent of Pomba begins, and now Ben Swift hits the front on the lower slopes of the 3km climb.

-17km

Now Joe Dombrowski takes over for UAE Team Emirates and lifts the pace another notch. More riders are being jettisoned out the back of this reduced peloton.

Dombrowski leads Rui Costa at the front, while Swift is still tucked in third position, with Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski sitting directly behind him. 

Remco Evenepoel, Vincenzo Nibali, Miguel Angel Lopez, Dan Martin, Amaro Antunes, Mathieu van der Poel and Greg Van Avermaet are still in this reduced peloton of 50 or so riders, which is being propelled by Dombrowski. 

-16km

This is a fine cameo from Dombrowski, and the front group is slashed still further, to perhaps 30 riders. Rohan Dennis (Ineos) has been distanced, as has Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal).

The front group is strung out in a long line behind Dombrowski in the final kilometre of the Pomba. Jan Polanc is also in this front group for UAE Team Emirates, albeit right at the back in the company of Bauke Mollema and Max Schachmann.

-14km

Thomas and Kwiatkowski are still posted near the head of the group as Dombrowski leads them to within sight of the summit.

The front group is over the top of the Pomba and is now making its way down the short descent. A series of undulations follow until the race hits Monchique, where the ascent to Alto da Foia begins with 7.5km to go.

-11km

The situation remains unchanged as the front group hurtles towards the base of the Alto da Foia. Dombrowski leads Rui Costa, while an Ineos delegation sits right behind them. Evenepoel, Nibali, Lopez and all of the other GC contenders are also still present and correct in this front group.

-9km

Dan Martin won on the Alto da Foia three years ago, and the Irishman is well positioned here on the run-in to the base of the final ascent.

-7.5km

Dombrowski leads the reduced bunch through Monchique and onto the lower slopes of the Alto da Foia. As soon as the road climbs, Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) is jettisoned out the back. There are around 30 riders in this bunch, including Mathieu van der Poel.

-7km

This has been a fine display from Dombrowski, who continues to lay down a brisk tempo on the Alto da Foia. Van der Poel looks remarkably comfortable despite the gradient and the intensity.

-6km

Rui Costa sits impassively on Dowbrowski's wheel. Ben Swift, Thomas and Kwiatkowski remain tucked in just behind the UAE Team Emirates duo. So far, the rate of attrition on the Alto da Foia has been low.

Evenepoel and Lopez sit in the body of the front group. Astana have numbers and it would be a surprise if the Kazakhstani team didn't go on the offensive.

Right on cue, Rodrigo Contreras (Astana) accelerates and opens a small gap over the rest of the reduced bunch.

-5km

Contreras can't extend his advantage much beyond 40m or so, but he maintains his acceleration for around a kilometre before Dowmbrowski brings him to heel.

Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) has taken over on the front, with Rui Costa still locked into second wheel.

-4km

Van der Poel was looking comfortable much of the way up this climb, but the Dutchman finally relents just inside the 4km to go banner. There are perhaps 20 riders left in the group led by Polanc.

Another acceleration from Astana, this time from Harold Tejada, but the Colombian isn't able to open a gap. Polanc resumes his position on the front. 

-3km

Poloanc finally reaches the limits of his endurance with 3km to go and he swings over after a spirited show of pace-making. Now Ben Swift takes over with Michal Kwiatkowski on his wheel. Thomas has dropped further back in this group...

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) launches a ferocious attack and opens a gap over the group. Rui Costa and Dan Martin lead the pursuit, and the rise in pace sees Thomas dropped out the back.

Lopez is brought to heel. Rui Costa, Dan Martin, Nibali and Evenepoel have joined him in a front group that now features 15 riders or so.

-2.5km

Simon Geschke (CCC) senses a lull and attacks, opening a small gap. None of the GC favourites respond and his advantage yawns out.

-2km

His teammate Van Avermaet, incidentally, is still in contact with this front group, a remarkable display from the Belgian.

Joao Almeida leads the group of favourites for Evenepoel, and his pace-making looks set to peg back Geschke with a little over 1km to go.

-1km

Geschke is caught just inside the final kilometre. Almeida winds up the pace with Dan Martin tucked onto his wheel.

Kwiatkowski has been dropped from the group thanks to Almeida's forcing. 

Into the last 500m. Almeida leads, with Martin, Rui Costa, Nibali and Evenepoel all moving up in this group of a dozen riders.

Evenepoel accelerates with 400m to go and it seems that nobody can follow...

Schachmann launches his sprint from distance in a bid to catch Evenepoel... The German champion is drawing close...

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve.

Schachmann came very close to denying Evenepoel at the death, but the Belgian kicked one last time and had just enough of a gap to raise an arm in celebration at the summit. 

Evenepoel accelerated from the middle of that front group and immediately opened a sizeable gap. Rui Costa tried but was unable to make any inroads into his advantage. Schachmann fared rather better, producing a sparkling turn of pace in the last 150m, but he couldn't deny Evenepoel, who also takes the overall lead.

Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) was third across the line.

Evenepoel and Schachmann were 2 seconds clear of Dan Martin. Rui Costa took 4th ahead of Tim Wellens. Miguel Angel Lopez was 6th at 5 seconds, while Nibali and Mollema were a further 3 seconds back.

Result

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 04:46:38

2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe

3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:00:02

4 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates

5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal

6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:00:05

7 Frederico Figueiredo (Por) Atum General / Tavira / Maria Nova Hotel 00:00:08

8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo

9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo

10 Amaro Antunes (Por) W52/FC Porto

General classification

1 Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep 9:42:15
2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:02
4 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:00:05
7 Amaro Antunes (Por) W52/FC Porto 0:00:08
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10 Federico Figueiredo (Por) Atum General/Tavira/Maria Nova Hotel

Evenepoel dedicated his victory to Lotto Soudal rider Nikolas Maes and his wife, whose second child was stillborn last week. "There are more important things in life. That’s more important than this win," Evenepoel said.

"I just followed, followed on the climb, then Joao [Almeida] did a great job. In the last two kilometres, he set a big pace. I had a feeling I had something left for the last 500m and it worked out," said Evenepoel, who will be favoured to win overall given the final day time trial in Lagoa. "There’s still a big day on Saturday [the uphill finish at Malhão – ed.] We will have to defend the jersey. Sunday is a big day for me, and hopefully I can take the yellow jersey there.” 

Evenepoel has only been racing bikes since the first weekend of April 2017 but he is his victories already seem routine. It’s worth recalling that they are anything but. Here, the 20-year-old held his ground when men like Geraint Thomas were distanced and he then unleashed a fearsome acceleration into the wind in the last 400 metres. It’s his third win of 2020 after he claimed a stage and the overall at the Vuelta a San Juan, and he will be favoured to add to that haul this week.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanks for joining our live coverage of today's stage of the Volta ao Algarve. A life report, pictures and results will be available here, and Daniel Ostanek will have all the news and reaction from Portugal. We'll be back with more live coverage from tomorrow's third stage.

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