Remco Evenepoel wins Volta ao Algarve for the third time

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) confirmed his favoritism and celebrated the overall victory in the 50th Volta ao Algarve. In the final stage, the Belgian resisted all attacks and arrived at Alto do Malhão in second place, behind Daniel Martínez (BORA-hamsgrohe), securing his third title in Algarve and tying Belmiro Silva’s record (won in 1977, 1981 and 1984).

“I’m happy with this third victory. It’s a very nice feeling to come here and have a very successful week to return home with three wins and two second places. When Van Aert attacked, we were calm, I think you can see it on TV. We had to sacrifice a lot of energy from the guys because they chased a bit earlier than we expected. But I think we showed how mentally strong this team is. We never panic in a given situation, especially like the one Wout created”, highlighted the winner of the 50th Volta ao Algarve at the end of the stage.

“I had to make the final climb with the 54 pedal. I had a mechanical problem, I couldn’t shift into small gear. It was a shame, because doing a climb with ramps of around 20 percent with 54 is quite difficult. It messed up my legs, but I think in my head I was pretty calm. It’s a shame, because I’m a guy who likes to ride at a high cadence. Especially in the first part, I think it killed my legs. And my acceleration was a little less towards the end, due to the big loss of power caused by the mechanical gearing. But that’s life, I guess there are worse things”, Evenepoel confided.
The fifth and final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, a 165.8-kilometer ride from Faro to the iconic Alto do Malhão, was even more exciting than expected. After some initial escape attempts, the fight began at the first Crédito Agrícola Sprint, where Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty), first, solidified his lead in the points, and Jan Tratanik (Team Visma | Lease A Bike), second, tried to secure the bonuses for the overall fight.

On the climb to Picota (3rd cat., km 43.8), the first of the stage’s KOM Sprint, the peloton split and Wout van Aert (Team Visma | Lease A Bike) was first, but it wasn’t long before they regrouped. A breakaway of 20 cyclists followed, with their lead stabilizing at three minutes. However, it was on the climb up to Alte (3rd cat, km 128.3), about 40 kilometers from the finish line, that the race really became exciting.

Wout van Aert attacked and took Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) with him. The two cyclists reached the head of the race with around 30 kilometers to go, with a 1m40s advantage over the peloton where Remco Evenepoel was riding, enough to give Van Aert the virtual yellow jersey and put the Soudal Quick-Step men on alert.

The duo of escapees, along with Gijs Leemreize (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), the only holdout from the initial breakaway, isolated themselves on front and passed through Malhão for the first time with a 1m10s advantage over the yellow jersey group. The gap, however, kept narrowing for the peloton led by Soudal Quick-Step, who stopped Wout van Aert’s boldness and caught up with the escapees in the final two kilometers.

In the final kilometer, BORA-hansgtohe pushed the pace on the group of favorites, but Remco Evenepoel resisted once again and even accelerated for the stage win. The Belgian didn’t succeed in the end, but, just like in Fóia, came in next and with the same time as Daniel Martínez, who won the stage with 3h55m35s (an impressive average of 42.227 km/h). Thomas Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers), who won in Malhão in 2023, completed the podium.

“We did a great job as a team. When Van Aert attacked, the sports director told us on the radio to take it easy because it was still a long way to the finish. It was fantastic teamwork. I really wanted to win here, where I was second two years ago. It’s the toughest stage of Volta ao Algarve”, explained Daniel Martínez after adding the victory in Malhão to the one he’d already won in Fóia.

Second place was more than enough to crown Remco Evenepoel as the winner of the 50th Volta ao Algarve for the third time, securing the Turismo do Algarve yellow jersey with a final time of 18h45m53s. Daniel Martínez, winner of the 2023 edition, finished second overall, 43 seconds behind, and held on to the blue Água é Vida mountain jersey. Jan Tratnik was third, 1m21s away.

“Of course I really enjoy racing here, it’s always a high level. And it’s always a very good race to test your legs at the start of the season. I really like it here, the country, the fans, the roads, everyone and everything is so nice. So I don’t know about next year, but I’m sure I’ll be back”, said the world time trial champion after equaling the record for victories in Volta ao Algarve.

In the other classifications, Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty) held on to the green Crédito Agrícola points jersey and young Portuguese António Morgado (UAE Team Emirates), who finished 10th overall, regained the white IPDJ youth jersey. Among the teams, Team Visma | Lease A Bike finished in the lead.