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“It was pretty unexpected if I’m honest. I knew I was doing OK but I didn’t know how I’d feel on that climb. It was pretty steep at the bottom, levelled off during the middle, and then ramped up towards the top again...

Photo: Sirotti






19.02.2015 @ 21:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Geraint Thomas leapt to the top of the standings at the Volta ao Algarve by escaping to a stunning solo victory on stage two.


Thomas latched onto Rein Taaramae’s wheel when Astana rider attacked the final climb of the day, and then blew his rival away as he crested the summit and powered on for his first win of the season.


The Welshman crossed the line with a 19-second cushion over Taaramae, with the Estonian’s team-mates Valerio Agnoli and Luis Leon Sanchez leading a reduced peloton home four seconds later.


That result, coupled with bonus seconds at the line, saw Thomas open up a 30-second lead over Taaramae, and take control of the yellow jersey.


Richie Porte meanwhile, moved up to sixth in the general classification courtesy of his 13th-placed finish.


Immediately after the stage, Thomas described how events had played out on a day to remember.


He told “Once I’d decided to follow Taaramae, I looked back and everyone behind me was on the limit. I jumped across, took a few deep breaths, and then went over the top of him and managed to hold a decent lead all the way to the finish.


“It was pretty unexpected if I’m honest. I knew I was doing OK but I didn’t know how I’d feel on that climb. It was pretty steep at the bottom, levelled off during the middle, and then ramped up towards the top again.


“Once I’d got over the summit, there were still some more little rises to overcome which definitely hurt, but I managed to get enough out of myself to take the win.


“It was an amazing feeling crossing the line. I don’t get to win too often – especially not on my own – and it’s a great way to kick start my year.”


On the attack

The action took the riders 197km from Lagoa to Monchique and five escapees jumped clear after an early flurry of activity.


Their gap stabilised at around five minutes as they took in a lap of the Algarve International race circuit, but Etixx – Quick-Step were in no mood to let them stay away and eventually pegged them back after 169km.


No sooner had parity been restored when Ian Boswell immediately infiltrated a fresh five-man move which dangled ahead of the peloton until they approached the final third-category climb.


Taaramae made his move as the road ramped upwards with 8km, but Thomas reacted perfectly and battled on for a triumph that will live long in the memory.


If that wasn’t enough, Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Salvatore Puccio finished ninth and 10th respectively, and Porte’s high-placed finish ensured Team Sky also went top of the team classification.


Thomas will now attempt to defend his jersey, but admits that task will be far from easy.


He added: “There’s a 19km time trial tomorrow and I’ll ride full gas in that and see how I get on. Obviously, I want to hang on to the jersey, but there are some hard days ahead.


“Saturday is a long, difficult stage, with a really testing finish. Having Richie and a few of the other guys close by on the GC means we’ll have plenty of cards to play, and that’s always a nice situation to be in.”



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