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Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2018: Stage 4

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Thomas wins stage 3 time trial

We have a sprint stage today, a long one with 199.2 km from Almodovar to Tavira. There are two small climbs (cat. 4) along the way, and it is a rolling course, but a nice flat finish.

We have a six-man break today: Benjamin King (Team Dimension Data), Rory Sutherland (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Bruno Silva (Efapel), Aleksandr Grigorev (Sporting-Tavira), and João Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto). They got away just under 7 km into the day, and halfway through the day, they have a lead of 3:20.

Jacopo Guarnieri (FDJ) did not start today.

Our race preview says: The following stage from Almodôvar to Tavira is another replication from last year’s race with the sprinters given their chance to shine. In 2017 it was Andre Greipel who came out on top in a close battle with John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo). The latter returns this year, along with Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

You can read the whole preview here.

As expected, KOM Ben King took the points at the Santa Marta climb at km 121.

 

Sky’s Geraint Thomas won the individual time trial yesterday, to increase his overall lead in the race. It was quite a day for Sky, with four riders in the top ten on the day.

There is not quite a minute between the top five in GC. Today shouldn’t make much difference, but tomorrow’s mountains could do so.

1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 10:01:58

2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) 0:22

3 Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) 0:32

4 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) 0:52

5 Tejay van Garderen (BMC) 0:53

Kwiatkowski leads the points classification, but Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) is tied with him on points, 25. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) is only five points back in third place.

Ben King (Dimension Data) has joined the break group today to build up his lead in the mountains ranking. He has 15 points, ahead of Kwiatkowski (10) and Ricardo Mestre (W52-FC Porto).

And he has accomplished his goal, by winning both cat. 2 climbs today.

54km remaining from 199km

The gap is coming down now, with only some 50km left. At km 145, it is now only 1:49.

 

Sam Oomen (Sunweb) leads the young rider ranking, and not surprisingly, Sky the team rankings.

Meanwhile, over in the Ruta del Sol, Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal won the stage and took over the race lead. 

 

We have 40km to go and the peloton looks to have no rush or pressure at the moment.

 

38km remaining from 199km

 The gap is just under a minute now, at 0:58.

Dan Benson is at the race and chatted with a few riders before the stage.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) We just want to stay where we are today and then save our legs for tomorrow. Today will be break and we’ll try and control that. Then the sprinters’ teams will be looking to the finish. There are quite a few good bunch sprinters here and that’s the finish we’re expecting today. I didn’t expect to feel this strong.

Kwiatkowski is looking good but it’s a nice bonus.

#VAlgarve2018 The race is heating up as we dip under the 40km to go mark. The breakaway's time is tumbling as thing… https://t.co/34E14yuF21

@TrekSegafredo Sat, 17th Feb 2018 15:58:01

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

It’s a little unexpected to have these results so early in the season but there are some strong rivals who will try and bounce back on Sunday’s stage. Today’s a day for the sprinters but we’ll try and recover as much as we can. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.

The gap is holding around the one minute mark, with 28 km to go. Still plenty of time for the field to catch those six leaders.

 

Nelson Oliveira (Movistar)

 We’ll aim for the podium tomorrow but first we need to get through today. The only goal to today is to stay safe. Then with tomorrow, I don’t know but Sunday’s final climb is really start, and really hard. We’ll have to say how it plays out.

The time trial was good for me. The result was unexpected because last week I didn’t train as much as I wanted to. I’m going to try and keep in the top ten, that has to be the first main goal. I’ll do my race, and I’ll do my own climb. In the end we’ll see what happens but I’ll make sure that I suffer until the end.

We have Jamie in the top ten. He’s a good climber, and better than me.

This is the only real chance in the year when we can come to my country and race with the top teams. The fans come out, and a big thanks to them for cheering on the Portuguse.

Sky is moving to the front of the field. They had a lot of luck yesterday, winning here and in Ruta del Sol. They weren't so lucky in Ruta today, losing the stage and the GC title. Plus, Christopher Froome had a puncture at a bad time and lost enough time to fall out of the top ten.

 

Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data)

The time trial could have gone better. It wasn’t a disaster but I need some improving. This is my first time here, and the guys say that Sunday’s climb should be better for me. I’ll give it another go, and I felt good on the climb the other day. If everything goes well, then it could be good day.

Friday was my first real hit on the new time trial bike, and going full gas. I felt good, I just wasn’t as fast as I would have liked.

Sky have the strongest squad here and I don’t think that they’ll have a problem controlling the race. I guess I’ll just ride with them.

20km remaining from 199km

20 km left, and the gap is still at 0:56.

 

Efapel is the first to fall out of the lead group.

 

Philipe Gilbert, a BMC rider and a Cofidis jump from the field, with the gap at 50 seconds.

 

Gilbert's companions are Dylan Teuns (BMC) and Guillaume Bonnafond (Cofidis),

 

18 km para a meta / 18 km to go Queda no pelotão que segue partido em dois grandes grupos. Crash in the middle of the peloton

@VAlgarve2018 Sat, 17th Feb 2018 16:24:33

16km remaining from 199km

Only 29 seconds between the first two groups. The field is roughly the same behind the chasers.

 

Jasha Sutterlin of Movistar has moved up to the Gilbert group.

 

21 seconds now for the Gilbert group. We still have 13 km to go. We still suspect everything will come back together for a bunch sprint.

 

Bonnafond didn't want to take his turn at the lead, which the other three didn't appreciate. It almost broke up the group.

 

Things are very close now. The Gilbert group is only 7 seconds behind the leaders, and the peloton has them all in their sights. 10 km to go.

 

The lead group looks back and tries desperately to stay away. It doesn't work and they are caught. Bonnafond, however, has dropped back. 

 

7 km and 8 seconds.

 

Sam Oomen (Sunweb)

We found the cause of the problem with my knee and since then it’s been getting better. I’ve had a lot of massage, as the muscles around my left knee were really stiff but the main thing was to find the cause of the pain. It was own to equipment, as something wasn’t right with my shoe. It’s getting better now and that’s a big relief. I hope it stays like that. It didn’t hurt that much in my time trial.

It is every man for himself in the lead goup now, with Gilbert leading the way. The catch will come any second now, with 4km to go.

 

3 km and everything together!

 

Lotto Soudal has taken control of things.

 

Bora-hansgrohe had moved up to the front but sees its sprinter is not around, and moves back. LottoNL-Jumbo, with Groenewegen, heads up towards the front.

Last km!

 

Through the final turns, and Groenewegen leads the way. He takes the easy win!

 

it really was an easy win for Groenewegen, who had 2-3 bike lengths over second placed Matteo Palluchi. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) was third.

 

Looks like no changes in the GC.

 

This is of course Groenewegen's second stage win here. He won Stage 1 and was the first race leader.

 

Groenewegen had so much time in hand, he could look back to see where the others were and raise his arms in celebration.

 

Top ten on the stage:

1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo

2 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe

3 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo

4 Florian Senechal (Fra) Qucik-Step Floors)

5 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team

6 Timothy DuPont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert

7 Hugo Hoftstettler (Fra) Cofidis

8 Jasper Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal

9 Lioc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team

10 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky

Cyclingnews photographer Bettini has shot a superb sequence of images of the sprint. Here Groenwegen has just launched his sprint.

 

 

 

 

This image captures the moment Groenwegen leads by so much that he has time to check on his rivals.

 

 

Here Groenewgen celebrates his win and indicates which team dominated the sprint finish.

 

 

To see the full sequences of photos from the sprint, click here for our stage report and photo gallery.

 

 

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the thrilling stage.  Join us tomorrow for live coverage of the final 173km road stage from Faro to Malhão.

 

 

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