Volta ao Algarve #1: Race ends in sprint, despite crashes

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Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) claimed the first stage at the Volta ao Algarve, as the day ended in a bunch sprint.

The first stage of Volta ao Algarve got underway today from Albufeira to Lagos. The 192,6km stage was the season opener for two of our team leaders, Louis Meintjes and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Within the first two km of racing, a break consisting of Josu Zabala (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Nuno Almeida (LA Alumínios), David Livramento (Sporting-Tavira), Luís Afonso (Vito-Feirense-BlackJack) and João Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto) managed to start to build a lead over the peloton. The furthest they managed to stretch their lead through the day was 3 and a half minutes, showing the peloton’s intention to end the day with a sprint finish.

With 25km to go, Josu Zabala (CJR) and Luís Afonso (VFB) managed to drop the other three riders with them, but were caught with 16km to the finish line. The sprint trains started to group as the peloton reached the final stretch of the day.

With nine km left, José Gonçalves (Team Katusha Alpecin) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty Groupe Gobert) broke from the group and managed build a lead of 20 seconds. A crash halted the peloton’s rhythm momentarily, but the two riders were caught with 4km to go. Luckily, none of our riders were impacted by the crash.

Our African team were looking to Edvald Boasson Hagen, who has recently come back from a minor injury, to contest in the sprint. He didn’t manage to get in position to challenge the sprint, which ended with Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) crossing the line first. Eddy was our best placed rider, finishing in 23rd place.

Bingen Fernandez – Sport Director

“Everyone was super fresh for the sprint, because the race didn’t go too fast… There were two big crashes in the final kms, and I think it was one of the negative things of this easy day. We didn’t crash, and that was important, and we wanted Eddy to be in the front for the sprint, but in the end he didn’t manage to get in a good position, so he wasn’t there for the win.”