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Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2018: Stage 2

Welcome back to the Volta ao Algarve! Stage 2 is the Queen Stage and takes us up in the mountains, with five ranked climbs, including an awesome mountaintop finish!

We have a seven-man group, which got away just after the 10 km marker: Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-hansgrohe), Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), Benjamin King (Team Dimension Data), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Marcos Jurado (Efapel), Oscar Pelegri (Rádio Popular-Boavista) and Ricardo Mestre (W52-FC Porto). They had a gap of up to eight minutes, but that has been reduced. Now that they are in the mountains, there is inteference with radio transmission and we don’t have kms or time gaps at the moment.

Check out our race preview, this is what it says for today:

Stage 2 will provide the first and perhaps most serious test for the GC contenders in the race with the first summit finish at Foia. The stage begins from Sagres – once again on the coast – before heading inland for a series of four categorised climbs. None of them should affect the race a great deal but for many of the riders who are using the race as their first test of the season, a few tired bodies could be exposed. It’s also perfect terrain for an early break to form and with a sprinter likely to be the GC leader, it will fall on other teams to control a chase. The final climb will undoubtedly shape affairs. At almost 15 kilometres in length, and with pitches of just under 10 percent, it has the possibility of creating havoc in the peloton. The gradient starts at a rather more gentle 4.7 per cent, with the hardest sections in the middle, with around 7-8 kilometres remaining. The final 3,000m average out at 6 per cent but at this point the leaders could be down to a dozen riders, if not less. On the same climb last year Dan Martin - then of Quick-Step but now of UAE Team Emirates – climbed to victory, dropping Primoz Roglic and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).

The first stage was one for the sprinters. Today is not, and we will see some big changes in the GC. Here is how they came into the stage, all with the same time:

1 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo)

2 Arnaud Demare (FDJ)

3 Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis)

4 Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

5 Jurgen Roelandts (BMC)

The points ranking is also led by Groenewegen, ahead of Demare and Hofstetter.

There were some small ranked climbs yesterday, so we already have a mountain ranking. This too will change today. It is currently led by Joao Rodriguez (W52-FC Porto), ahead of Luis Afonso (Vito-Feirense-Blackjack) and Josu Zabala (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA).

We have already had three climbs today. Ben King of Dimension Data took them all, as well as the first intermediate sprint. And now he has taken the fourth climb!

65km remaining from 187km

With 65 km to go, the gap has dropped to 2:50.

 

Best young rider is Sam Oomen (Sunweb), and Quick-Step Floors leads the team ranking.

Dan Benson is at the race for us and talked to some top names before the stage.

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) “This stage isn’t as hard as the one I won on last year but for sure I’ll try my best. It would be amazing to win a stage for my new team. I always try.

This is exciting and it’s nice to be racing with a new group. It’s refreshing. I just want to get the legs going again and see what the condition is like. I think that I’m good but we’ll see how things go. I need to learn how to work with these riders and staff. Everything is new and that’s a big test for the next races.”

More from Dan Martin: “It’s a very difficult race and it’s a high standard. I asked the team to come here because it was my first experience last year and I had a great race. It’s really good training and racing, and it’s good to be back here. Today the last 6km are the same but last year we came from the steeper side. It’s a totally different race.

I was a little bit sick last week but we’ll see. I’ll give my best. I’ve been in Andorra most of the winter and it’s been good. That’s the difference, I think. I’ve been doing steady-paced climbing and here it’s going to be more explosive. I’ll ride for the win today though.”

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)

“I feel good. This is the first race of the year and I’m easing into it but I’m feeling good. I think that today could be super tactical because it’s not a super tough climb. You could even see a rider for the flats do well on the climb. There could be some attacks but the real test will be the Sunday climb. Someone like Tony Martin might not get dropped either. It’s around 5 per cent and it’s just a grind to the top. I’m not expecting a real showdown. It’s not going to be everyman for himself.”

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)

“Today should suit me. It’s the first climb of the year and we’ll see how the legs go. The profile does suit me though. As for our plan there are some more experienced GC teams here. So we’ll follow. There’s someone like Dan Martin who won on this climb last year. We know him quite well too.”

Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky)

“It’s the first race of the season for me and for Geraint [Thomas]. We’ll go for the best result though. It’s too early to say how we will feel. The ideal situation would be to stay at the front and then drop as many guys as we can. We’re motivated but I don’t think it’s going to be crazy stage. It’s not so steep and there’s the time trial tomorrow and then the Queen stage on Sunday. I don’t think that you can win the race today.”

70km remaining from 187km

70 km still to go, and our lead group has a gap of 2:40.

 

Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo) is now team leader for the big races, including here. And he likes that!

 

35km remaining from 187km

Only 35 km left, and the gap is up slightly, to 3:10.

 

Katusha-Alpecin says that Willie Smit has crashed out of the race with a suspected fractured collarbone. 

It is no surprise that Groenewegen is winning sprints, as he did yesterday, and teammate Danny Van Poppel too. LottoNL-Jumbo has put a lot of work into those sprint trains.

 

28km remaining from 187km

UAE Team Emirates has moved to the front of the peloton.

28 km and 2:19

 

The gap is dropping now, it is under two minutes due to UAE Team Emirates' hard work.

 

km 163,4 / 24,5 km to go Meta Volante em Portimão 1. Oscar Pelegri (Rádio Popular-Boavista) 2. Benjamim King (Team… https://t.co/GFNyCRO0ig

@VAlgarve2018 Thu, 15th Feb 2018 16:24:23

21km remaining from 187km

With 17 km to go, the gap is down to 0:55. The road is heading up already but the real climbing has not yet started. 

 

Postlberger attacks out of the lead group, with King giving chase. The others look ready to wait for the peloton at this point. 

 

The closing climb today, the Foia, is a long one, 15.2km long. It has an average gradient of 4.7% but about halfway up it has sections of 8.7% and 9.5%.

King and Postlberger working well together in the lead. The climb has started but is still relatively mild.

 

The peloton has grown smaller, and we suspect it will be much smaller by the finish line. 

 

10 km and only 20 seconds for the two leaders.

 

Sky at the head of the much smaller pack. They have the two leaders in their sights now. 

 

King looks back, sees the field, chats with Postlberger, they shake hands and decide to wait to be swallowed up.

 

And with 9 km to go, the break is over. 

 

The Foia, is the highest point in Algarve, at 900 meters.

And they hit the first really steep section!

 

Sky leads the way up. Kiryienka jumps and Dan Martin gives chase.

 

Roglic and two others have joined them.

 

Spilak (Katusha) and the ever-dangerous Philippe Gilbert are the other two.

 

We hear that the LottoNL-Jumbo rider is Sepp Kuss.

 

Further back, more riders are being droppped. Kiryienka takes off again from his small group.

 

The gaps are not large, perhaps 5 seconds from Kiryienka to the chasers and the same to the field.

 

With 6 km, he has built up a good lead, with the chasers having been caught. Various riders jump from the field to try and bring him back.

 

5 km left. Lots of attacks but Kiryienka unimpressed.

 

4 riders are giving chase.

 

3 km to go. The four chasers are getting closer, but are still not close. 

 

There are now only 2 chasers.

 

The two are Sam Oomen and Valeroi Conti. But it looks now as if the field has caught them, and the gap to Kiryienka is no longer so big with 2 km to go.

 

A new group of 3 is on Kiryienko's heels, with the field onyl seconds behind them.

 

He is caught and there is a loose group of some 15-20 riders going under the 1 km marker.

 

Two riders try to jump but the Sky-led group won't let them go.

 

Geraint Thomas, Bob Jungels, Bauke Mollema, all in this group.

 

Thomas opens the sprint to the finish line.

 

And it is an easy win for his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski!

 

Mollema takes second, with Thomas third and Martin fourth, all in the same time as the winner.

 

The top ten on the stage: 

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 4:49:51

2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo

3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky

4 Dan Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates

5 Jaime Roson (Spa) Movistar Team

6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:03

7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors

8 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors

9 Vicente Rubio (Spa) LA Aluminios

10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team

That was enough to boost Thomas into the overall lead. 

 

General classification after stage 2

1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 9:37:49

2 Jaime Roson (Spa) Movistar Team

3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky

4 Dan Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates

5 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo

6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe

7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors

8 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors

9 Vicente Rubio (Spa) LA Aluminios

10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data

That makes two wins for Sky this afternoon, as Wout Poels took the stage and GC lead at the Ruta del Sol.

 

You can find the full results and complete report here. 

 

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