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Portuguese race favourite avoids late crash to power clear on tough uphill finish while Wyss finishes 10th to take over the race lead from Pfingsten

Photo: IAM Cycling

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VOLTA A PORTUGAL

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09.08.2013 @ 19:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rui Sousa (Efapel) is seen as one of the big favourites to win the Volta a Portugal and today he proved those assessments right by winning the race's first uphill finish on stage 2. In a dramatic finale, he avoided the late crash that took down escapee Joni Brandao (Efapel) and Danail Petrov (Caja Rural) to power clear of his rivals while Marcel Wyss (IAM) crossed the line in 10th position to take over the leader's jersey on the back of a good performance in Wednesday's team prologue.

 

Ever since Rui Sousa finished 3rd in last year's Volta a Portugal, he has been intent on taking the win in his big national tour and today he set himself up for such a triumph by powering clear in the race's first uphill finish. Matteo Fedi (Ceramica Flaminia) tried to come around but had no chance while Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM) finished a little further back in 3rd.

 

However, the finale was extremely dramatic. Sousa had accelerated with Danail Petrov and Fedi in his wheel and those two made it up to the final escapee Brandao with less than 500m to the finish line. Petrov made a furious acceleration to move clear and seemed to be the winner of the stage when he suddenly collided with Brandao, both riders hitting the tarmac as a consequence.

 

Souse had enough time to avoid the tumble and crossed the line in first position while Marcel Wyss finished a little further behind in 10th but without losing any time to the stage winner. As race leader Christoph Pfingsten (Cycling Team De Rijke) was far behind, that was enough to move the Swiss into the overall lead.

 

He now takes a 4-second lead over Efapel teammates Cesar Fonte and Sousa into tomorrow's third stage which has a couple of climbs on its route but should finish with an uphill sprint in Fafe.

 

A big group goes clear

The 187,9km stage was almost completely flat but had a difficult sting in the tail as it finished atop a category 3 climb. A very aggressive start to the stage made room for a big breakaway which was allowed to build up a big gap.

 

With 83km to go, Paul Poux, Maxime Daniel (both Sojasun), Alfredo Balloni (Ceramica Flaminia), Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthCare), Reto Hollenstein (IAM), Sebastien Duret (Bretagne), Portuguese champion Brandao, Javier Ramirez (Onda), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka) and Karol Domagalski (Caja Rural) were 8.47 ahead of the peloton which was led by a couple of Leopard-Trek riders. However, those two young riders were unable to make much inroad into the advantage and it appeared as though the lead group would have a solid chance of holding off the peloton.

 

De Rijke starts to chase

With 74km to go, the De Rijke team of race leader Pfingsten decided to take its responsibility for the chase and the Dutch team got assistance from Continental Team Astana in their quest to bring back the escapees. Later Louletano also joined the work and with 35km to go, the gap had come down to 3.30.

 

With 22km to go, Ceramica Flaminia decided that they had no faith in Balloni who was in the front group and so they also moved to the front of the peloton. With the gap down to just 1.43 3km further up the road, Domagalski broke the harmony in the front group and launched the first attack.

 

More attacks

The Pole had little success but tried again 2km later with a similarly unsuccessful outcome. However, the many accelerations had left De Maar without any power and the UnitedHealthCare rider fell back into the peloton.

 

Leopard-Trek was now leading the chase and with De Maar having been reeled in, UnitedHealthCare also decided to do some work. Up ahead,  Daniel launched an attack and he was joined by Brandao while the remaining escapees struggled to get back on.

 

Ramirez falls off

Ultimately, the group was brought back together, only for Duret and Poux to go up the road. However, only Ramirez was unable to bridge across and so 8 riders hit the bottom of the final climb with a small 40-second gap over the peloton.

 

Duret launched another attack on the lower slopes but Brandao, Balloni and Daniel made it across. Duret and Daniel fell off the pace and with 2km to go, Balloni and Brandao were the only riders who were still up the road.

 

Efapel puts down the hammer

Efapel was now setting a furious pace to prepare a win for Sousa and the peloton was shred to pieces. Up ahead, Brandao left Balloni behind and the Portuguese now appeared to have a good chance of taking a big home win in his national champion's jersey.

 

A Caja Rural rider made the first attack from the peloton but Sousa reeled him in and then kicked himself. Only Petrov and Fedi were able to respond and those three riders made it across to Brandao. That was when Petrov opened up his sprint, only to see it all come to nothing when he hit the deck a few seconds later.

 

Results

1. Rui Sousa  4.41.21

2. Matteo Fedi

3. Aleksejs Saramotins

4. Cesar Fonte

5. Gustavo Cesar Veloso

6. Edgar Pinto

7. Hernani Broco

8. Nuno Ribeiro

9. Vladislav Gorbunov

10. Marcel Wyss

 

General classification

1. Marcel Wyss 10.46.27

2. Cesar Fonte +0.04

3. Rui Sousa

4. Gustavo Cesar Veloso +0.06

5. Delio Fernandez

6. Alejandro Marque

7. Matteo Fedi

8. Yannick Talabardon +0.07

9. Vladislav Gorbunov +0.09

10. Hernani Broco +0.10

 

Points classification:

1. Maxime Daniel 26

2. Rui Sousa 25

3. Alexander Serov 25

4. Matteo Fedi 20

5. Manuel Cardoso 18

 

Mountains classification:

1. Rui Sousa 5

2. Joni Brandao 3

3. Matteo Fedi 3

 

Youth classification:

1. Vladislav Gorbunov

2. Manuel Amaro

3. Rafael Silva

 

Teams classification:

1. Efapel 32.05.53

2. OFM +0.02

3. IAM +0.29

4. LA Aluminios +0.32

5. Sojasun +0.39

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