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Volta ao Algarve Stage 2 - Live Coverage

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Report: Jakobsen wins stage 1

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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

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.

-133km

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."

Situation

-120

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.

-108km

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.

-92km

Situation

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

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."

-71km

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

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

-40km

-38km

-36km

-30km

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

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

Situation

-24km

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

-21km

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

-17km

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

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

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

-9km

-7.5km

-7km

-6km

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

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

-4km

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

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

-2km

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

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

General classification

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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