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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:

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:

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

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.

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.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)

Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky)

70km remaining from 187km

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

35km remaining from 187km

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

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

21km remaining from 187km

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: 

That was enough to boost Thomas into the overall lead. 

General classification after stage 2

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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