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"As of now, things are going as planned for us with a stage victory and three riders still in the GC hunt. I'm happy about my condition, and with such a hard stage this is the first time I tried to stay with the top riders."

Photo: © Etixx - Quick-Step / Tim de Waele

MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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VOLTA AO ALGARVE

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19.02.2015 @ 21:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski, UCI World Road Champion, finished 5th in 197km Volta ao Algarve Stae 2 on Thursday. Teammate Zdenek Stybar, Czech Road Champion, was 6th. The undulating final kilometers featured a flurry of attacks, but it was a counter attack by Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in the final few kilometers, out of a select group, that won the stage.

 

Rein Taaramae (Astana) was the original attacker out of the select group, but he was passed by Thomas. There was a gap of 11" to Taaramae after the final Category 3 climb at kilometer 191.7, and 20" to the peloton at that point. Thomas held his advantage to the finish line. Taaramae went on to finish 2nd. Valerio Agnoli (Astana) was 3rd.

 

Etixx - Quick-Step was on the front controlling the original five-rider breakaway all day, and continued to work hard on the front after the breakaway was caught until the finale.

 

Thomas takes over the race lead from Gianni Meersman, the Belgian Etixx - Quick-Step rider who won the first stage of Volta ao Algarve. Zdenek Stybar and Michal Kwiatkowski are now in 3rd and 4th place GC, while Tony Martin is in 8th place. All three trail Thomas by 33 seconds.

 

Kwiatkowski won the finale in Monchique in 2014.

 

Etixx -Quick-Step looks next to the 19km ITT on Friday. 

 

"The team was amazing today," Kwiatkowski said. "All the guys stayed on the front the whole day. Tony, Zdenek, and I were able to stay really relaxed before the last climb. The last 50 kilometers were really technical and when we were looking back, the peloton was really lined out.

 

"It was a really difficult stage. Five hours of racing, and the circuit around Monchique is difficult. But we have three riders in the top 10 GC now, all down by 33 seconds. Thomas is leading. We are looking forward to the time trial tomorrow and another hard stage that finishes in Malhao the following day.

 

"As of now, things are going as planned for us with a stage victory and three riders still in the GC hunt. I'm happy about my condition, and with such a hard stage this is the first time I tried to stay with the top riders. I'm happy we were present and we are now moving on to the next stages."

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