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Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2018: Stage 1

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Roglic wins 2017 title

Welcome to Portugal! The Volta ao Algarve kicks off today with one for the sprinters. Join us for 192.6km from Albufeira to Lagos, with two small climbs along the way.

Our break group of the day is: Josu Zabala (Caja Rural), Nuno Almeida (L.A. Aluminios), David Livramento (Sporting Travira), Luis Afonso (Vito-Feirense) and Joao Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto). They got away early and after 45 km they have built up a gap of 3:34.

What can we expect today? Although there are two small categorized climbs, they come in the opening half of the stage. The final 90km are on rolling roads, but with terrain that the sprinters’ teams should be able to contend with. The last three kilometres contain a kick with just over 2 km to go before a downhill run-in towards a pancake-flat last kilometre.

Check out our race preview here.

You can't tell the players without a program! Take a peek at the start list. 

 

Here the top ten from the 2017 edition:

1 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)

2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

3 Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar)

4 Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal)

5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana)

6 Daniel Martin (Quick Step Floors)

7 Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin)

8 Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)

9 Amaro Antunes (W52/FC Porto)

10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Sporting/Tavira)

Only four of them are here again this year: Kwiatkowski, D. Martin, T. Martin, Nocentini

We have 13 WorldTour teams here: BMC Racing, Bora-Hansgrohe, FDJ, Lotto Soudal, Movistar, Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data, Katusha-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates.

We just had the intermediate sprint at km 69.9 and the results are: 

1.Josu Zabala (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)

2.David Livramento (Sporting-Tavira)

3.Luís Afonso (Vito-Feirense-BlackJack)

There was a cat. 4 climb at 43.9 km, and that went this way:  1. João Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto), 2. Luís Afonso (Vito-Feirense-BlackJack), 3. Josu Zabala (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)

122km remaining from 192km

With 122 km to go, the gap has dropped to 2:26.

 

And as to who might be going for that sprint win, here is who we have on offer: Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo), John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo) and Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates).

Nice to see Edvald Boasson Hagen racing. You will remember he had his gallbladder removed last month.

 

 

This isn't the only race going on at the moment. There is a lot of climbing today at the Ruta del Sol, and our live report on that race is a good read.

 

Richie Porte is at this race, and it turns out he has more on his mind than just racing. The team is looking for a new sponsor, and he is giving them a time limit before he starts looking for a new team. Read about our exclusive interview here. 

 

Nathan Haas was the surprise winner in the Tour of Oman today, bringing in Katusha-Alpecin's first win of the 2018 season. He did it by "channeling his inner Cancellara", which sounds reasonable to us. 

 

French champion Arnaud Demare (FDJ) is opening his season here today. He is on his way to the Classics and of course the Tour de France.

 

Team Sunweb is still looking for its first win this year. It has sent a young team here to Portugal, with Sam Oomen heading things up.

 

92km remaining from 192km

With just about 100 km behind them, the peloton has brought the gap down to 1:47.

 

Dan Martin is making his debut for his new team, UAE Team Emirates, here today, with "a mixture of nerves and excitement."

 

75km remaining from 192km

WIth 75 km left to go, the gap is 1:45.

 

Did you know that our team has won 13 stages with 10 different riders at the past editions of Volta ao Algarve? #WayToRide

@quickstepteam Wed, 14th Feb 2018 15:17:09

80km remaining from 192km

The gap continues to drop. With 80 km to go, it is down to 1:25.

 

Quick Step has had a lot of success at this race, and this year is being led by Bob Jungels and Philippe Gilbert. We think that sounds like two good reasons to expect more success.

 

Dan Benson is at the race for us, and he had a chat with Bauke Mollema. The Trek-Segafredo rider said, "The start of the year was really good for the team with a few sprint wins and the time trial win in Argentina. When I saw the team in training camp everyone was really motivated.

Alberto was only with us for one year. I think everyone speaks as if the team has really changed with him stopping. Of course it was a big change but he was only there for one year. It wasn’t like he was there for years and years.

For sure, for the younger riders and other riders, this is a chance for more freedom in other races."

 

Mollema continued, "For me this feels like the first real race and it’s my first time here in Algarve. This isn’t the biggest objective, of course. I think everybody knows that the biggest objectives are the WorldTour races but this race has a nice course and it’s a good test ahead of Paris-Nice. That’s my first really big goal of the season.

My form is good though, and in Mallorca I was feeling okay. I think I’ve made another step and the feelings I had in training were also good. I’ll be okay."

54km remaining from 192km

The gap is now nearing the one minute mark.

 

A close finish over there in the Ruta del Sol, and we are still awaiting the official announcement of the winner.

And now we have it, after quite a delay: Thomas Boudat of Direct Energie takes the sprint.

 

42km remaining from 192km

With 42 km left to go, the gap is at 1:16. Looks like a nice sunny day!

 

We sill have another intermediate sprint before the finish

 

Of course we expect a bunch sprint here today, as well. But not necessarily a photo finish!

 

BMC en masse near the front of the peloton. The field isn't putting any pressure on, the gap is a comfortable minute with plenty of kilometers left to catch the break group.

 

31km remaining from 192km

The break group won't be away much longer. The gap is at 19 seconds now.

 

The road is quite rolling on this section, with constant mild ups and downs, and curves. The lead group is starting to nervously look back over their shoulders.

 

We only have four riders in the break now.

 

Afonso and ZAbala are now alone up front. The gap has allegedly shot back up to 59 seconds.

 

Trek-Segafredo has a rider at the head of the field. They would like to see John Degenkolb win here.

Now the peloton is catching the riders from the former lead group.

 

Zabala pushes it up a notch and pulls away from Afonso.

 

24km remaining from 192km

But now they are together again.

 

The two leaders have a little chat. "Can you believe we are still up here?" "Yeah, think we can win this thing???"

 

The gap has dropped dramatically, now at 10 seconds, and it looks like our daring duo will be swept up momentarily, with 18 km to go.

 

16km remaining from 192km

With 16 km the final two are finally caught. And so of course immediately others jump and try to get away.

 

Five riders with a small lead, including Stefan Kung and the dangerous Tony Martin.

 

Needless to say, the peloton was not happy with that situation and has hauled them back. 

 

Two moer riders trying their luck, one of them being another Katusha.

 

We have Tom Devriendt (Wanty) and Jose Goncalves (Katusha), they have a small lead with 11 km to go.

 

18 seconds already for these two.

 

The road narrows and there is a crash in the field.  A crash in the field but everyone looks to be ok.

 

Tiago Machado (Katusha) had to pull his shoe off the pedal and put it back on his foot. The medics took advantage of that to test him and see if he had taken a knock on the head. Apparently he hadn't.

 

8km remaining from 192km

That crash split the field, but it should be back together again soon. And it looks as if the two escapees will be caught again soon too.

 

Four km and only a handful of seconds.

 

And just like that they are caught and everyone is together..

 

A Sky rider, Elissonde has a one-man crash, but is ok. 

 

FDJ leads the peloton.

 

The field flies into the final 2 km.

 

Last kilometer!

 

All the usual suspects are near the front. 

 

Demare is careffully delivered to the front by his team, but Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) has the lead. Demare comes up to him but it looks like the Dutchman has taken the win.

 

It was a close one, but Groenewegen indeed takes the win ahead of Demare. Third is Hugo Hofstetter of Cofidis.

 

That is Groenewegen's second win this year, as he also won the first stage of the Dubai Tour. That means he also takes on his second leader's jersey of the season. Plus he leads in the points ranking. 

 

The stage results: 

1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 4:47:58

2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ

3 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits

4 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert

5 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team

6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo

7 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal

8 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe

9 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors

10 Luis Mendonça (Por) LA Aluminios

GC after stage one:

1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 4:47:58

2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ

3 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits

4 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert

5 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team

6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo

7 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal

8 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe

9 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors

10 Luis Mendonça (Por) LA Aluminios 

Full results and a complete report will be available here soon. Not to mention lots of photos!

 

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