Wout van Aert wins thrilling sprint in Tavira

Wout van Aert (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) celebrated his victory in the third stage of Volta ao Algarve, after overcoming Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) and Marius Mayrhofer (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) in a thrilling sprint finish in Tavira. Daniel Martínez (BORA-hansgrohe) remains leader in the general classification.

“My goal was to avoid problems at the sprint finishes. But the approach to the finish today was easier and safer than on the first day. But I saw myself at the front, with the team, and thought ‘why not?’. It’s important for my confidence, but I’m a runner and I want to win races. It’s great to start the season winning here in Portugal. Tomorrow I’ll do my best, hopefully we’ll have a few riders from the team in a good position after Saturday’s stage so we can play our cards right in Sunday’s stage”, explained Wout van Aert at the end of the stage.

“The start of the stage was really easy, but it was a sprinters stage and in these kind of stages there’s always a lot of stress at the end. Tomorrow we’ll see how it goes. Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are great time trial specialists. I’m feeling good at the moment. I have a good team, but first we have to get through tomorrow”, said yellow jersey Daniel Martínez.

The 192.2-kilometer stage, between Vila Real de Santo António and Tavira, had the breakaway of the day as early as eight kilometers in, when a group of seven cyclists from Portuguese teams, formed by Afonso Eulálio (ABTF Betão-Feirense), Miguel Salgueiro (AP Hotels & Resorts-Tavira-SC Farense), Germán Nicolás Tivani (Aviludo-Louletano-Loulé Concelho), António Ferreira (Efapel Cycling), Raúl Rota (Rádio Popular-Paredes-Boavista), Frederico Figueiredo (Sabgal-Anicolor) and Francisco Morais (Tavfer-Ovos Matinados-Mortágua), stood out from the peloton and quickly gained a 45-second advantage.

The breakaway group remained at the front for much of the race, reaching a maximum advantage of 4m40s, 127.4 kilometers from the finish line. With this time reducing, at kilometer 115 of this stage, a fall in the peloton forced Rui Costa (EF Education-EasyPost) and, eventually, his teammate Marijn van den Berg to drop out.

After the fight for the intermediate stage points, the group gradually fell apart until only Miguel Salgueiro remained. The young Portuguese held on until the last 14 kilometers, in a great effort that earned him the prize for the stage’s most combative rider. From then on, the WorldTour teams took the lead of the peloton and began fighting for the best position to secure victory, with the pace increasing every kilometer.

In the final kilometer and after a crash 500 meters from the finish line split the peloton, Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty) was the first to take a risk, but his decision proved too hasty. It was Wout van Aert who took the opportunity, attacking around 75 meters away and securing the stage win with a time of 4h50m57s, followed by Rui Oliveira and Marius Mayrhofer, who came in with the same time.

In the general classification, Daniel Martínez held on to the lead and to the respective Turismo do Algarve yellow jersey, four seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) and 12 ahead of Sepp Kuss (Team Visma | Lease a Bike). The Colombian is also wearing the blue Água é Vida jersey, as he is the mountain leader. In the points, Gerben Thijssen still holds the Crédito Agrícola Green Jersey, as does António Morgado (UAE Team Emirates), who has kept the IPDJ White Youth Jersey. As for the teams, BORA-hansgrohe is in the lead.

This Friday, the fourth stage of the 50th Volta ao Algarve will be a time trial of 22-kilometers, that will take place in Albufeira. It will start at the Marina and finish at the Town Hall. The first rider will set off at 12:21 pm and the last one is scheduled to start at 3:21 pm.