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As it happened - Evenepoel loses mountaintop sprint but wins Volta ao Algarve


Olá and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 5 of the Volta ao Algarve 2024!

It’s the final day of the 2024 Volta ao Algarve, and Remco Evenepoel is looking to wrap up overall victory following his stage win in yesterday’s time trial. Evenepoel was untouchable on that course, with only Magnus Sheffield getting anywhere near his time, and is odds on to seal the yellow jersey on a stage well-suited to his characteristics.

Never one short on confidence, Evenepoel yesterday stated that not only does he think he can complete overall victory, but could also go for a second consecutive stage win.

Evenepoel wearing the yellow jersey in the stage’s start town Faro earlier today. He and the rest of the peloton will depart the neutralised zone in about ten minutes.

Evenepoel’s lead of 47 seconds ahead of Dani Martínez and over a minute ahead of everyone else is substantial, but this stage is a complicated one. It’s a hilly route, with five classified climbs in total, including an uphill finish on Alto do Malhão that typically serves as the finale of the Volta ao Algarve.

The Alto do Malhão will be climbed twice, first 24km from the finish, then at the finish itself. It’s not long, lasting only two and a half kilometres, but has an average gradient of over 9% that is steep enough to cause carnage.

Here we go then, the riders have just set off and are making their way through the neutralised zone.

The severity of the final rise up Alto do Malhão make waiting for it the conventional ploy for the GC riders, but if anyone’s feeling bold and wanting to put Evenepoel under pressure, there are plenty of hill and undulating roads throughout the day to try and do so, starting with the category three Picota climb 44km into the stage.


One rider who won’t be going for the stage win, despite being one of the top favourites to do so, is Isaac del Toro. The Mexican is a DNS following a rough night last night. That’s a real shame as the final climb could have witnessed an explosive acceleration from him, especially if his form in yesterday’s time trial was anything to go by. 

We’re a few kilometres into the stage, but a breakaway has yet to form.

About 10km into the stage and still no break. The road does does go a little uphill for the next few kilometres for an uncategorized rise, which might prove the decisive launchpad.

Volta ao Algarve

The peloton makes its way through the neutralised zone in Faro (Image credit: Getty Images)


The riders have completed the shallow uphill rise and are on flat roads again. 

Big move now as Filippo Ganna tries to get up the road. The Italian was visibly disappointed with his showing in the time trial yesterday and is evidently eager to immediately make amends.

The peloton isn't willing to let such a strong rider escape, however, and he and his fellow escapee Arthur Kluckers have been brought back.


Gerben Thijssen was first at the sprint, meaning he extends his lead in the points classification. Jat Tratnik was second, making his grip on the GC podium a little tighter.

Tratnik started the day in third overall, but a distant 1-12 from Evenepoel. His going for and earning a four second time bonus is an early statement of intent, though he could be more worried about the cluster of riders such as Stefan Küng, Ben Healy and Thymen Arensman within shooting distance of his time than he is optimistic of dethroning Remco at the top.


They’re on the climb now. Dani Martínez is wearing the blue jersey as current leader of the mountains classification, but you doubt defending this is his priority today.

Volta ao Algarve Faro

The riders at the start this morning in Faro (Image credit: Getty Images)

The climb has been crested, and interestingly it’s Wout van Aert who was first to the top.

A snippet from earlier in the day, when Jasper Stuyven and Luke Rowe were among the riders to try - unsuccessfully - to form a breakaway.


Incidentally, the results on that climb means Evenepoel draws level with Martínez at the top of the mountains classification, while Kuss is just one point behind.


At long last, it appears we have our break of the day. A sizable group has formed and has a lead of over two minutes on the peloton.

There are some big names in there too, most notably Filipp Ganna, plus also Valentin Madouas and Jasper Stuyven. But nobody who is a threat to Evenepoel on GC.

Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe),  Nils Politt (UAE Team Emirates) and Andreas Leknessund (Uno-X Mobility) also appear to be there, plus Evenepoel's teammates Florian Sénéchal and Matteo Cattaneo. We'll give you a full run-down soon.

James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost) is the highest placed rider in break on GC, at a distant 3-57. The other 19 are:

Their advantage over the peloton has now grown to over three minutes. That’s a big enough group with strong enough riders to stand a real chance of surviving to the finish. Will there be enough desire in the peloton to chase, especially given how hard the first half of the stage has been before the break was formed?

Both the break and the peloton have completed the gradual uphill drag they’ve been dealing with for the last 20km or so, and now get to enjoy some downhill roads before the next categorised effort, Vermelhos, in about 15km’s time.


We have our first DNF of the race: Francisco Morais of the Tavfer-Ovos Matinados-Mortágua team. He was in the break a couple of days ago.

Now that the race has (for now) settled into a holding pattern, let’s turn our attention to the GC race.


Olivier Le Gac

The break of the day (Image credit: Getty Images)

The break has completed the climb, with Leknessund first over the top.

As he’d scored some points earlier this week, that’s enough to put Leknessund level with Evenepoel and Martínez at the top of the virtual climbers classification. There are a couple of climbs before the final effort up Alto do Malhão, so if the break can stay clear the jersey could be his.


Bora-Hansgrohe and Soudal-QuickStep are leading the chase in the peloton. They can’t afford to give this group too much leeway, with James Shaw nearing the virtual yellow jersey.

James Knox

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Mikel Landa, Remco Evenepoel

Evenepoel descending on the wheel of his Soudal-QuickStep teammate Mikel Landa (Image credit: Getty Images)

The efforts at the front of the peloton are starting to have an effect. The break’s lead is now closer to 2 minutes than 3.

A couple more DNFs to report: Joaquim Silva and Antonio Ferreira (both Efapel Cycling).


Attack in the peloton, and it’s Wout van Aert!

Van Aert seems to have taken them by surprise and has flown up the road. He has a advantage of several seconds already.

This is very interesting, as Van Aert is only 1-18 down on Evenepoel on GC, in fourth overall.

Van Aert made his move on the lower slopes of the Alte climb, and has the rest of it (2.4km in total) to help extend his lead.

Ben Healy has also jumped out of the peloton and isn't too far away from Van Aert. They ought to make a formdiable pair.

Helay has joined up with Van Aert, and Van Aert's teammate Pert Strand Hagenes has dropped back from the break to help pace them. There's daylight between this trio and the peloton, with a gap that must be at least 15 seconds.

Back in the break, they're reached the top of the climb, with James Shaw beating Leknessund to the top. The latter will nevertheless become the new virtual leader of the mountains classification as a result.

The chasing trio and the peloton have also reached the top. The gap has plummeted, especially since it all kicked off with Van Aert's attack.

Van Aert, Healy and Hagenes have 30 seconds on the peloton.

Bad news for Magnus Sheffield, who has had a mechanical and is out of the back of the peloton, having taken teammate Geraint Thomas’ bike. He’s 8th on GC and is wearing the white jersey as leader of the young rider classification so has something to lose.

This is getting very serious now as the trio are up a minute on the peloton. Van Aert is only a handful of seconds away from being virtual yellow!

Healy is also a big threat on GC, just two seconds behind Van Aert in 1-20 on GC.

The trio has now joined the breakaway, in what feels like no time at all. 

In the peloton Evenepoel has four Soudal-QuickStep domestiques ahead of him to set the pace, but right now they are losing a dangerous amount of ground.

All this activity is bad news for Sheffield, who is in a group of stragglers off the back of the peloton following his bike change.


The gap's up to over 1-22, which means Van Aert is now the virtual yellow!

The break is now climbing the Alto do Malhão for the first time, which will later host the stage finish. It had been expected that hostilities would properly kick off then, but this first ascent of the climb has now become crucial. Can Soudal-QuickStep make any inroads on it?

The break is already about half the size of what it was when they began this climb. Hagenes is among those dropped, but now Shaw is leading on behalf of EF teammate Healy.

Only two Soudal-QuickStep teammates are left with Evenepoel in the peloton. Might he have to do this chase by himself?

Ganna, Catteneo, Leemreize are among the riders still in the break, but that might change now as Healy attacks...

Healy reaches the top of the climb first, with just Van Aert and Leemreize on his wheel.

Now here comes the peloton over the top, just over one minute down. The gap's come down a bit, enough to put Evenepoel back into the virtual lead, but the situation is still precarious - especially taking into account bonus seconds. 


Gijs Leemreize merits a mention as the only rider in the break to stay with Van Aert and Healy. Had the break stayed clear, it seems he would likely have been the man to take stage victory - and if he can rest up and take a free ride from the other two, maybe he still can.

Soudal-QuickStep are receiving some assistance from Bora-Hansgrohe. This could be a crucial development - Bora’s Martinez might not be able to dethrone Evenepoel with only one more climb to come, and his team’s help might be the boost needed to neutralise Van Aert and Healy.

The gap now is at almost exactly one minute. This could still go either way. What a finale to the race!

Van Aert making the initial attack earlier, with Healy pursuing in the background. Could this prove to be the GC-winning move?

A bit of disorganisation in the peloton as the Soudal riders briefly lose the wheel of Cattaneo. This is a huge test of the Soudal-QuickStep team, and will be a major blow to morale if they lose the overall lead.


It does seem the gap has come down, and that Evenepoel is more in control again. Lots could still change on this final climb, however.

The time gap now being reported as 40 seconds. A reminder that Van Aert is 1-18 behind Evenepoel, and Healy 1-20.

ALTO DO MALHAO PORTUGAL FEBRUARY 18 Per Strand Hagenes of Norway and Team Visma Lease a Bike leads the breakaway during the 50th Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2024 Stage 5 a 1658km stage from Faro to Alto do Malhao 514m on February 18 2024 in Alto do Malhao Portugal Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

Hagenes leading Van Aert and Healy earlier in the day (Image credit: Getty Images)

Landa is getting assistence from Bora's Bob Jungels in the peloton. Bora's willingness to aid Soudal-QuickStep in the chase in order to defend Martinez's second-place overall might be what saves this race for Evenepoel. 

Just 5km before they start climbing the Alto do Malhão again, the top of which will be the stage finish.

It's looking very good for Evenepoel now. The gap is now barely above 20 seconds, and Jungels and Landa are looking strong while Van Aert and Healy tire.

The GC is looking remote now, but a stage win could still be on the cards. As the leading trio approach the foot of the climb, they're lead is about 20 seconds.

They're on the climb!

Healy is setting the pace with Van Aert on his wheel, and Gijs Leemreize on his.

In the peloton, Landa is done, and Evenepoel is on Jungels' wheel.

Van Aert is finished! He's been dropped by the other two, and has sat up.

Now Leemreize is dropped. Healy's out there on his own, making one final push for victory. It's a tall order though...

Only a few seconds for Healy, ahead of the Bora-led peloton.

The catch is made, the win will come from the peloton after all.

Sergio Higuita is now leading the peloton for his teammate Dani Martínez.

Martínez attacks! Evenepoel follows.

Five more riders bridge up to them.

Of who Scaroni now attacks, but Evenepoel and Martínez shuts it down.

Now Kuss attacks, but he too is brought back as Pidcock leads the chasers

Less than 500m to go...

Kuss has Visma teammate Tratnik on his wheel

7 riders together - Kuss, Tratnik, Martinez, Remco among them

Evenepoel attacks!

Martinez catches and passes him...

Martínez wins!

Just as was the case on stage two, Martínez gets the better of Evenepoel in an uphill sprint to win the stage.

Evenepoel is only a second or so behind ,so comfortably seals overall victory.

All that work from Soudal-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe paid off for both, as the former wins the GC, and the latter the stage.

Tom Pidcock was a little futher back in third-place.

Visma | Lease A Bike will be dissapppointed in how that played out. Even after Van Aert was brought back, a stage win still looked possible as Kuss led Jan Tratnik out inside the final kilometre. But he simply didn't have the same kick as Martínez and Evenepoel.

Interestingly, Evenepoel says a gearing problem meant he was forced to ride the final 20km in the big chain ring, which must have made the final climbs hard. Considering all the pressure he was up against, he did well to stay calm and still manage to finish second, even if he wanted the stage win.

While Evenepoel and Martínez held on for first and second overall, Jan Tratnik rounds off the podium in third overall. His teammate Van Aert ultimately slipped down to seventh after sitting up following the catch.

ALTO DO MALHAO PORTUGAL FEBRUARY 18 EDITORS NOTE Alternate crop Daniel Felipe Martinez of Colombia and Team BORA hansgrohe Blue Mountain Jersey celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 50th Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2024 Stage 5 a 1658km stage from Faro to Alto do Malhao 514m on February 18 2024 in Alto do Malhao Portugal Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

Dani Martínez takes the stage win ahead of Evenepoel (Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanks for joining us today, and all this week, for the Volta ao Algarve. That was a much more thrilling finale than we could have anticipated following Evenepoel’s crushing victory in the time trial yesterday, and the Belgian and his team will be mightily relieved at sealing overall victory. Be sure to read our full report of what happened today.

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