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Having been 8 seconds behind at the time check, Cancellara managed to take back enough time on the way back to beat Martin by 8 seconds in the Volta ao Algarve time trial; Thomas was third while Martin is the new leader

Photo: Sirotti










19.02.2016 @ 17:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) again proved that he is ready for an outstanding final season as a professional by claiming an impressive victory in the Volta ao Algarve time trial. After having been 8 seconds behind at the time check, he finished the 18km test stronger than Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) to beat his archrival by 5 seconds while Geraint Thomas (Sky) was a distanct third, 28 seconds off the pace. Race leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) crashed out of the race while Martin takes the overall lead.


When he won the hardest race at the Challenge Mallorca in terrain that should usually be too tough for him, Fabian Cancellara clearly showed his intentions. The Swiss has hit the ground running in 2016 and aims to leave the professional cycling world with a bang in his final season.


After failing to win the Dubai Tour, he again confirmed his excellent form today when he beat his archrival Tony Martin in a hugely exciting duel in the time trial at the Volta ao Algarve. The Swiss made use of his power and technical skills to beat the German by five seconds in a closely fought battle.


The 18km course consisted of a very technical first 5km and a second part that was made up of long, straight roads. That made it a perfect combination for Cancellara who gauged his effort perfectly.


Things were not looking good for Cancellara at the halfway point though as he was 8 seconds behind Martin at the time check. However, he bounced back when he turned into the tailwind in the finale and took back 13 seconds which allowed him to take the win.


While Cancellara took the win, the GC riders were battle for time and after his great ride in yesterday’s mountain stage, Martin was of course the big winner. Defending champion Geraint Thomas was the best of the rest as he put in a solid performance to take fourth but he was a massive 28 seconds behind the Swiss stage winner.


Movistar captain Ion Izagirre also put himself in a great position by taking fourth in what was an impressive showing of the Spanish team which occupied the positions from third to seventh with their leader, Nelson Oliveira, Jonathan Castroviejo and Alex Dowsett. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) was the next GC contender in 8th. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) bounced back from yesterday’s disappointment by taking 13th, one second behind Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) who confirmed his great progress.


The big loser was race leader Luis Leon Sanchez. The Spaniard was on track to have a good ride as he was sixth at the time check but he crashed in the windy conditions and was forced to abandon.


With the win, Martin takes the overall lead with a 3-second advantage over Thomas while Izagirre slots into third, 17 seconds further back. The GC battle will briefly step into the background in tomorrow’s fourth stage which has two early category 3 climbs but the finale is mostly flat. However, the final 500m are uphill at 4-5%, meaning that it is a difficult end to what is likely to be a stage for sprinters and puncheurs.


A flat time trial

After yesterday’s summit finish, the GC riders faced another important stage when they tackled the 18km time trial around the city of Sagres. It was an almost completely flat course that was split into two parts. The first five kilometres were very technical and then the riders faced a second part that was made up of long, straight coastal roads.


It was another sunny and windy day when Victor Manakov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) rolled down the ramp as the first rider at 12.30 local time. He reached the finish in 23.27 to take an early lead but was quickly beaten by Alexander Serov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) who was exactly one minute faster.


Brändle takes the lead

Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) was expected to set a first mark and he lived up to expectations by stopping the clock in 22.05. Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) slotted into second with a time that was 14 seconds off the mark.


Everybody had their eyes on former Hour Record holder Matthias Brändle (IAM) who had made the time trial a big goal and he dutifully took the lead with 21.54. Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) had a fine ride to move into third with 22.16. Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) slotted into sixth, 50 seconds off the pace


Good ride by Le Bon

Johan Le Bon (FDJ) was expected to provide the first challenge for Brändle and he got close with a time that was just 8 seconds off the mark. Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) confirmed his improved TT skills by positing the third best time of 22.04.


There were encouraging signs for William Bonnet (FDJ) in his comeback race as he set the 10th best time before Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) slotted into 10th. However, everybody was eagerly waiting for Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) who had been one second faster than Brändle at the time check but he lost ground and had to settle for fifth with 22.08.


Dowsett takes the lead

Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) was expected to be a contender but he could only manage seventh with 22.19. Instead, it was Alex Dowsett (Movistar) who got the attention. After having been 27 seconds faster at the time check, he maintained his speed all the way to the finish to take the lead with 21.37, 17 seconds faster than Brändle.


Niki Terpstra made it three Etixx-QuickStep riders in the top 7 with a time of 22.133 which was good enough for seventh place. Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) had been in the top 10 at the time check but lost some ground and had to settle for 17th, 1.09 behind Dowsett.


Cancellara crushes the opposition

Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale) had been second at the intermediate check but lost some ground in the finale, slotting into third with a time that was 15 seconds off the mark. That was slightly better than Anton Vorobyev who cracked in the end after having caught Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and had to settle for fourth with 22.04.


André Greipel had a fine ride to slot into 15th with 22.37 but his time didn’t get much attention as words came in from the time check that Cancellara had gone 17 seconds faster than Dowsett at that point. After Ian Stannard (Sky) had slotted into 7th with 22.05, the Swiss powered across the line in 20.57 to shave 40 seconds off the best time.


Oliveira slots into second

Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) was expected to provide the first challenge and he did well by taking second with 21.34 after having been third at the time check. Moments later Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) confirmed his potential by taking fourth with 21.48.


Salvatore Puccio (Sky) again showed good form by taking ninth with a time of 22.03 while Rigoberto Uran’s travails continued as he was already two minutes behind at the time check. Movistar continued their excellent performance by putting three riders in the top 4 when Nelson Oliveira slotted into second with a time that was just 0.5 second faster than his teammate Castroviejo’s.


Martin misses out

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) bounced back from yesterday’s disappointment with a fine time of 22.00 which was good enough for 8th. That was better than Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) who had been sixth at the time check but had to settle for 21st.


Fabio Aru was far off the pace with 22.44 and instead it was Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) who impressed with 21.48 which was good enough for fifth. However, everybody was eagerly awaiting Martin’s arrival after the German had been 8 seconds faster than Cancellara at the time check but in the end his time of 21.02 was five seconds too slow.


Sanchez crashes

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) lost ground in the final part and had to settle for 17th with 22.06. That was one second better than Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) who also suffered in the second part.


Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) confirmed his progress by taking 10th with 21.59 which was better than Tiago Machado (Katusha) who cracked in the end and had to settle for 22nd with 22.11. Instead, it was Ion Izagirre (Movistar) who stayed in GC contention with a time of 21.34 which was enough to push his teammate Nelson Oliveira off the provisional podium.


Everybody was now waiting for Thomas who had posted the same time as Cancellara at the time check. However, he conceded ground tin the finale, losing 28 seconds, but 22.25 was still enough for third. Moments later, it was reported that Sanchez had crashed out of the race after having been sixth at the time check and so Cancellara could step onto the podium as stage winner



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