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Having launched a strong solo attack on the final climb, Belda took his second stage win of the Volta a Portugal when he narrowly held off Fernandez and Veloso by 3 seconds; the latter defended his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti




04.08.2014 @ 18:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

David Belda (Burgos) continued his excellent Volta a Portugal when he won today’s fifth stage of the race in a tough uphill finale. The Spaniard responded to an acceleration from Jose Goncalves (Portugal) with 1km to go before launching his counterattack that allowed him to narrowly hold off the OFM duo of Delio Fernandez and race leader Gustavo Veloso for his second stage win. Finishing third was enough for Veloso to extend his overall lead.


Two days ago David Belda won the first summit finish in the Volta a Portugal when he made a fantastic solo attack on the final climb. Yesterday he tried a similar move but was caught by his fellow race favourites with less than1km to go.


Today the race had its third consecutive summit finish and for the third day in a row, Belda tried a late attack on the final climb. And unlike yesterday, the Spaniard managed to hold off his GC rivals to tak his second win in just 6 days of racing in the Portuguese event.


The fifth stage was held on a 161.3km course from Alvarenga to Santo Tirso and after a undulating start, it was a mostly flat affair. However, it had a nasty sting in its tail as it all came to an exciting conclusion on a 6.6km climb with an average gradient of 6.5%.


As the riders hit the first climb almost straight form the gun, the race was off to a very fast start and KOM leader Antonio Carvalho (LA) and his rival Raul Alarcon (Louletano) were both part of the action. As Efapel set a hard pace, no one managed to escape and instead LA hit the front to set up Carvalho for the sprint. He managed to beat Alarcon and extend his lead in the competition.


The fast pace had sent a big 44-rider group out the back door, including points jersey holder Davide Vigano (Caja Rural). Meanwhile, Manuel Cardoso (Banco BIC) won the first intermediate sprint.


After the sprint, the attacking continued and Carvalho was again part of the action. The KOM leader managed to win the day’s second climb but just after the top, the front group was caught.


Banco BIC set a fast pace to ensure that Cardoso would also win the second intermediate sprint but as soon as he had scored those crucial points, the break was allowed to take off. Arkaitz Duran (OFM), Daniel Silva (Radio Popular), Alarcon, Victor de la Parte (Efapel), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural), Max Werda (Stölting) and Christian Mager (Stölting) made up the 8-rider move.


Alarcon and Mager briefly escaped on their own but things got back together. However, they were kept on a short leash and after having had a 1.45 advantage, it dropped to less than a minute.


This caused a split in the front group as Alarcon, Silva, Madrazo and Mager dropped their companions. Duran managed to rejoin them but the rest of the early break was caught.


The LA pair of Hugo Sabido and Daniel Freitas bridged the gap while a similar attempt by Heinier Parra (Caja Rural) had no success. The gap had now reached more than 3 minutes.


Silva took off on his own and he managed to build an advantage of more than a minute with 50km to go. In the peloton, OFM set the pace to keep the situation under control for race leader Gustavo Veloso.


With 40km to go, Silva was brought back as the LA pair were doing an awful lot of work to set up Sabido for the win. Meanwhile, Efapel had taken over the pace-setting in the peloton and the gap started to come down.


With 30km to go, Alarcon launched an attack but he was quickly brought back and instead the LA rider went back to work. However, they were constantly losing ground and with 10km to go, they were just 1 minute ahead.


Banco BIC now joined Efapel on the front and even OFM took a few turns. Meanwhile, Freitas dropped off the pace in the front group while a mechanical took Silva out of contention.


When Efapel led the peloton onto the climb, the gap was down to just 25 seconds and they quickly swallowed up Freitas and Silva. In the front group, Sabido was doing most of the work but it was Duran who kicked off the action with 6km to go.


Only Madrazo could briefly hold onto his wheel but the Caja Rural rider had to surrender, leaving the OFM rider to continue on his own. Meanwhile, Efapel kicked off their aggressive strategy when Joni Brandao took off from the peloton passing first Alarcon and then most of the remaning escapees along the way along the way.


OFM immediately took over the pace-setting in the peloton, with race leader Gustavo Veloso riding in second position. While they got closer to the leading Duran, the main group was splintering and they quickly brought Brandao back into the fold.


Despite having the leading rider, OFM continued to ride on the front but they visibly slowed down when the Efapel danger had been neutralized. The yellow-clad team decided to play their next card when Sergio Sousa attacked but Veloso shut it down himself.


With 4km to go, Madrazo was brought back, leaving just Duran ahead of the yellow jersey group. The OFM rider was still 10 seconds ahead but now LA took over the pace-setting in a quest to set up Edgar Pinto for a repeat victory.


KOM leader Antonio Carvalho set a hard pace but Duran did a good job to maintain his 10-second advantage. With 3km to go, however, he blew up and fell back to the main group.


OFM hit the front to maintain a high pace and this spelled the end for Sousa who dropped off the pace. Carvalho launched a brief attack but was quickly brought back and another attack by a Louletano didn’t have much luck either.


With 2km to go, Carvalho attacked again and this time he got a bigger advantage. He was joined by a Radio Popular rider but they were brought back too.


Passing the flamme rouge, Jose Goncalves (Portugal) and David Belda (Burgos) attacked and they quickly got a big gap. As the peloton failed to react, Goncalves was able to ride away from the main group with Belda on his wheel.


With 400m to go, Belda made the expected counterattack but behind him, Veloso was now accelerating hard. While the race leader approached from behind, the Spaniard dug deep and he narrowly managed to hold off his chasers to take his second win of the race. 3 seconds later Delio Fernandez led his teammate Veloso across the line, with only Joni Brandao and Luis Leon Sanchez on their wheels.


With the third place, Veloso extended his lead as Edgar Pinto lost time and Sanchez moved into second at 29 seconds. He takes it into tomorrow’s stage 6 which should bring a bit of respite to the GC riders. After a flat start, the riders will do a big climb at the midpoint before a mostly flat second half brings the stage to an end.



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