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American comes around Daniel in final sprint on festive day while Marque enjoys a safe ride in the yellow jersey to seal his overall win the 12-day race

Photo: Volta a Portugal










18.08.2013 @ 19:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 12-day Volta a Portugal came to a close with a festive, flat final stage in Viseu and Jacobe Keough (UnitedHealthCare) who rounded off the exciting rounded off the exciting race with a powerful sprint win. Having taken the race lead in yesterday's time trial, Alejandro Marque was well-protected by his OFM team on the final day and safely crossed the line to take the biggest win of his career.


12 days of mostly mountainous racing was rounded off in the way that usually characterizes the end of a big  national tour. A short, flat 130km stage to Viseu brought the biggest race on Portuguese soil to an end and as expected the festive day ended in a big bunch sprint.


Jacobe Keough celebrated that he had made it safely through the tough race by latching onto the Sojasun sprint train of Jimmy Engoulvent and Maxime Daniel. When the latter opened his sprint, Keough made his own acceleration, easily coming around his rival to take his third win in a big UCI race.


The sprint came at the end of a relaxed day that had allowed race leader Alejandro Marque to take a glass of champagne and enjoy his moment of glory before the racing got serious towards the end of the stage. The Spaniard put his OFM team on the front on the final laps in Viseu and they safely escorted him across the line to seal what is by far his biggest win ever.


With Gustavo Cesar Veloso finishing as runner-up and the team taking three stage wins along the way, the race ended up as a big success for OFM who dominated the final tough days of racing, culminating with a win in Friday's queen stage and a crushing 1-2 in yesterday's time trial. Pre-race favourite and Portuguese hero Rui Sousa (Efapel) completed the podium in the season highlight for the Portuguese continental teams.


A relaxed start

The 130km stage was a traditional end to a national tour as it was mostly flat and finished with a number of laps on a circuit in Viseu. The race was off to a relaxed start as OFM kept a steady pace on the front while Marque celebrated his leading position with a glass of champagne.


With a very tight standing in the points competition, the racing got serious rather early as the first intermediate sprint was located at the 19,8km mark. Sprinter Manuel Cardoso (Caja Rural) had set his sights on the red jersey that was worn by tiny climber Sousa. Caja Rural controlled the first attacks and made sure that Cardoso could win the sprint while none of his rivals picked up any points.


A break is formed

With the sprint battle now put on hold until the finish, Caja Rural loosened their grip and following a number of attacks, a group finally got clear. Hugo Sancho (LA Aluminios), Arkaitz Duran (Efapel), David Gutierrez (Onda), Ferekalsi Debesay (MTN-Qhubeka), Paul Poux (Sojasun) and Sebastien Duret (Bretagne) were allowed to build up a 2-minute gap while OFM controlled the pace in the peloton.


Caja Rural had no intentions of letting the points jersey and stage win slip away and so they started to chase. For a long time they kept the gap stable between the 1.30 and 3 minute marks.


The break splits up

Gutierrez fell off the pace in the front group while Duret was unfortunate to suffer a puncture. With 60km to go, Sancho and Poux decided to attack and they got clear on their own.


Debesay made an attempt to get back on but ultimately had to give up and with 55km to go, only Sancho and Poux were still in front of the peloton. Caja Rural had now got assistance from Banco BIC and Cycling Team De Rijke who were both intent on setting up a bunch sprint.


All back together

At the first passage of the finish line, the gap was down to 43 seconds and with 28km to go, it was all over as OFM had now joined forces with Caja Rural. Those two teams quickly neutralized an attack from a De Rijke rider and from then on, they kept a high space throughout the remaining part of the race, thus encouraging any further attacks.


With 4km to go, Efapel took control, the Portuguese hoping to see climber Sousa make a surprise by picking up some points in the bunch sprint. As they passed under flamme rouge, they lost the front positions to the more established sprint trains with UnitedHealthCare now driving the pace.


A perfect sprint

John Murphy put Keough into a good position but they were overtaken by Engoulvent and Daniel. The American did, however, latch onto the duo and when he launched his sprint, he was clearly the fastest.


Cardoso only managed 7th in the sprint but that was just enough to take the win in the points competition. The Portuguese, Sousa and Edgar Pinto (LA Aluminios) (who had finished 8th on the stage) all ended with 85 points but as Cardoso was the only of those to have won a stage, he stepped onto the podium to receive the applause from his home crowd.



1. Jacobe Keough 3.00.38

2. Maxime Daniel

3. Filippo Baggio

4. Gerald Ciolek

5. Sebastien Hinault

6. Andrea Piechele

7. Manuel Cardoso

8. Edgar Pinto

9. Eugenio Alafaci

10. Armindo Fonseca


General classification:

1. Alejandro Marque 43.02.40

2. Gustavo Cesar Veloso +0.04

3. Rui Sousa +0.50

4. Edgar Pinto +2.44

5. Hernani Broco +2.57

6. Daniel Silva +2.59

7. Marcel Wyss +3.14

8. Virgilio Santos +5.23

9. Nuno Ribeiro +6.49

10. Celio Sousa +7.49



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