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Having launched a long-distance attack on the mighty Torre mountain, Rui Sousa tried to take it all in the Volta a Portugal queen stage; he took the stage but Veloso fought hard to retain his leader’s jersey

Photo: Sirotti






07.08.2014 @ 20:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rui Sousa (Radio Popular) made up for a disappointing start to the Volta a Portugal when he won today’s queen stage in impressive solo fashion, riding away from everyone else on the iconic Torre mountain. Behind the lone leader, Gustavo Veloso (OFM) fought hard to defend his overall lead and by finishing fourth he retained his position at the top of the leaderboard, even gaining important time on Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) who dropped out of GC contention.


Going into the Volta a Portugal, Rui Sousa was one of the big favourites but in the first mountain stages, the Portuguese has been slightly off the pace. Today he finally found his best legs when he completely dominated the queen stage in the biggest race of his season.


Knowing that he had to make up a lot of time to win the race overall, Sousa attacked from afar on the final climb and constantly gained time on race leader Gustavo Veloso who found himself isolated in the chase group. Only Veloso’s teammate Delio Fernandez could keep up with Sousa and first when he dropped back to assist his leader, Veloso started to stabilize the situation.


Sousa held on to take a big solo win while Veloso finished fourth, having responded to the attacks inside the final kilometre. He limited his losses sufficiently to retain his leader’s jersey with just three stages to go.



After a well-earned rest day, the Volta a Portugal riders were back in the saddle for the race’s queen stage which brought them over 172.5km from Belmonte to the well-known mountaintop finish on the Torre mountain. After a flat start, the riders tackled two big climbs before descending to the bottom of the race’s marquee mountain.


The race was off to a very fast start as several riders tried to join the early break but after 15km of racing, a group took off. Alberto Gallego (Radio Popular), Andre Mourato (LA), Micael Isidoro (Louletano), Filipe Cardoso (Efapel), Diego Camargo (4-72), Moises Duenas (Burgos), Jose Vicente (Ukyo) and Christian Mager (Stölting) made up the move while Daniel Silva (Radio Popular) took off in pursuit.


The chaser joined the front group which was allowed to build an advantage of 5.09 before the Efapel team started to apply the pressure on the first climb of the day. At this point, double stage winner Phil Bauhaus (Stölting) abandoned the race.


Cardoso managed to win the first intermediate sprint before the climbing hostilities started and on the ascent, the break split up. Gallego, Isidoro and Camargo attacked and were later joined by Vicente and Silva to form a front quintet.


Duenas was in lone pursuit while the rest of the early break was brought back. As KOM leader Antonio Carvalho (LA) led his teammate Hugo Sabido and most of the Efapel team over the top, the break was just 35 seconds ahead as the Efapel riders had made the race explode to pieces. Surprisingly, Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) who was second overall, fell off the pace.Camargo took maximum points ahead of Isidoro and Gallego.


On the descent, Nevado, Cesar Fonte (Radio Popular), Hernani Broco (Louletano) and Rafael Silva (Efapel) bridged the gap but Duenas was dropped soon after. The 8 remaining escapees fought hard to build an advantage but the peloton finally slowed down and allowed them to increase their advantage.


While Gustavo Veloso’s OFM team set the pace in the peloton, the gap reached 2.05. Camargo was again the fastest on the next climb, leading Gamito, Isidoro, Daniel Silva, Vicente and Rafael Silva over the top.


On the descent, the escapees started to lose ground and when Isidoro won the finial intermediate sprint, the gap was only 51 seconds. At the bottom of the final climb, it was only 35 seconds and this promoted two riders to attack.


Gallego and Isidoro launched the first move but they were quickly brought back. Instead, Fonte made a move and he seemed to be riding away from his former companions.


However, he was passed by Daniel Silva, Broco and Camargo while Efapel had again taken over the pace-setting in the peloton. The local team was blowing the race to pieces and whittling the group of favourites down to just 20 riders.


Silva dropped both Camargo and Broco and while the latter fell back to the peloton, Broco fought hard to get back. While Efapel continued their pace-setting, it was a fierce pursuit between the two escapees,


Broco was the first to get caught and moments later it was also over for Silva. At this point David Belda (Burgos) was the next major rider to get dropped from the peloton.


With Silva back in the fold, Radio Popular tried to create some action and LA also launched a few attacks. Rui Silva (Radio Popular) made the decisive move when he attacked 16km from the line.


The group of favourites exploded to pieces while Sousa and Delio Fernandez (OFM) rode away from race leader Veloso. Behind the leading pair, a group formed around Veloso who was joined by Joni Brandao (Efapel), Edgar Pinto (LA), Sandro Silva (Louletano), Virgilio Santos (Radio Popular) and his teammate Ricardo Vilela.


Former winner Ricardo Mestre (Efapel) had been dropped and was riding in a group a bit further back, with his teammate Victor De La Parte fighting hard to pace him back into contention. Meanwhile, Vilela worked for Veloso who constantly lost ground to the leader.


Of course Fernandez was just following Sousa’s wheel to protect Veloso’s lead but the OFM rider was clearly on his limit. Meanwhile, Vilela blew up which forced Veloso into the defensive, relying on other riders to bring the break back.


With 8km to go, the gap was 44 seconds which prompted Veloso to kick into the action. The race leader went to the front to set the pace but still lost ground to Silva and Fernandez.


With 5km to go, Fernandez fell off and he stopped to wait for his captain. The OFM rider paced his leader for a while and managed to stabilize the gap around the 50-second mark.


No one could catch Sousa though and the Radio Popular rider held on to take a big solo win. Inside the final kilometre, the attacks in the chase group were launched and Brandao, Pinto and Veloso managed to ride away from their rivals. Brandao led Pinto across the line while Veloso finished fourth.


That was enough to retain his lead and he now goes into stage 8 with a 28-second advantage over Sousa who moves into second. He can expect a significantly easier day tomorrow as the stage is almost completely flat and is expected to suit the sprinters. The finish is slightly uphill which may suit the punchier guys more than the pure sprinters.



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