Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) won the first stage of the 49th edition of the Volta ao Algarve in an exciting sprint in Lagos. The norwegian beat a strong competition, wearing the leaders Yellow Jersey Turismo do Algarve.
The 200.2 kilometers started in Portimão, with the weather threatening to influence the course of the stage, given the rain and wind, forcing cyclists to pay extra attention. The initial average speed showed some difficulty caused by the side wind.
The escape of the day took almost 20 kilometers to form. Five riders managed to gain an advantage, however, it never went much further than 2m30s. Alexander Kamp (Tudor Pro Cycling), Aleksandr Grigorev (Efapel Cycling), António Ferreira (Kelly-Simoldes-UDO), Rafael Lourenço (AP Hotels & Resorts-Tavira-SCFarense) and Sergio García (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) were the men who animated the stage.
António Ferreira took the opportunity to fight for the Blue Jersey Cyclin’Portugal, being second in the fourth category of Cruz da Assumada and first in the third category of Nave. The 22-year-old secured a podium presence as leader of the mountain classification.
The dane Alexander Kamp was the strongest in the only intermidiate sprint of the day, in Aljezur, but Kristoff is the owner of the Green Jersey Crédito Agrícola (points classification) given the victory in the stage.
In the third hour of the race, the speed increased to more than 40 kilometers/hour. Soudal Quick-Step and Aviludo-Loulé-Louletano Concelho started by leading the chase, but in the end it was the belgian team and BORA-hansgrohe who definitely showed that Lagos would have no surprises. The finish was going to be a sprint.
The escape began to lose elements, with Kamp and Grigorev being the riders that resisted the most. The russian from Efapel Cycling ended up being nominated by the public as the most combative of the day. 12 kilometers from the finish line, the peloton was all together, with a crash marking this stage of the race, affecting some cyclists further back in the group.
A short climb two kilometers from the finish line disorganized the teams trains for the sprint. The headwind at the finish line didn’t help. Søren Wærenskjold managed to help Alexander Kristoff who took all the advantage of the launch to win, with his teammate being third.
“It was fantastic. I’ve done this finish twice before. I was sprinting well, but today is the first time I’ve won in Portugal. Søren Wærenskjold gave me an excellent launch at the finish. He was very strong – he was third – and it fit me to take advantage, taking advantage of its strength to position myself better and launch my sprint”, said the stage winner.
“It’s always a relief to start the season winning, the pressure goes down a bit. Winning today is an indescribable feeling,” he added.
And Kristoff is already thinking about the next sprint, in Tavira, on the third stage (friday): “It might be more for Søren. We’ll see what we’ll do.”
Jordi Meeus (BORA-hansgrohe) was second and Fabio Jakobsen (european champions of Soudal Quick-Step), winner on three occasions in Lagos, was this time fourth.
With bonuses at stake in this edition of the Volta ao Algarve, Kristoff leads with four seconds over Meeus and six over Wærenskjold. However, this Thursday is the day to go up to Fóia, so the general classification will undergo an inevitable change.