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Spaniard beats Sousa in sprint on the mighty Alto da Torre to take his first big win since his 2009 Vuelta stage win while Sousa takes over the lead from overnight leader Pardilla who cracked completely

EFAPEL-GLASSDRIVE

TEAM PROFILE
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NEWS

GUSTAVO CESAR VELOSO

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

RUI SOUSA BARBOSA

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

VOLTA A PORTUGAL

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
16.08.2013 @ 19:10 Posted by Daniel Quistgaard

Former Vuelta a Espana stage winner Gustavo Cesar Veloso (OFM) proved that he is back in business afte a couple of seasons out of the spotlight when he won today's queen stage of the Volta a Portugal. Having kept up with the race favourites on the mighty Alto da Torre, the Spaniard launched a furious sprint on the top to deny race favourite Rui Sousa (Efapel) the win. The latter had the consolation of taking over the race win from overnight leader Sergio Pardilla who cracked on the tough stage.

 

The cycling world hasn't heard much from Gustavo Cesar Veloso since his big Vuelta stage win in 2009. Having seen his career getting into difficulty during to the demises of the Xacobeo-Galicia and Andalucia teams, the Spaniard has now found a home with the Portuguese OFM team.

 

Today he proved that he is still a fantastic bike rider when he won the queen stage of the Volta a Portugal. The Spaniard dug deep to stay in contact with the main contenders on the final climb up Alto da Torre before launching a devastating sprint on the top.

 

Big race and crowd favourite Rui Sousa did what he could to match his speed but the Portuguese had to let the Spaniard go as they neared the finish line, ultimately finishing one second behind in 2nd. The remainder of the front group had splintered to pieces in the sprint and rolled across the line during the next few seconds.

 

Overnight leader Sergio Pardilla (MTN-Qhubeka) had had a tough time on the mountain and ended up losing more than 10 minutes, dropping completely out of GC contention. Having started the stage equal on time with Pardilla, Sousa benefited from his strong ride to take over the yellow jersey.

 

He faces a difficult task in tomorrow's final stage for the GC riders as the 35,3km rolling time trial can produce some big gaps. He only leads Veloso by 6 seconds while time trial specialist Alejandro Marque (OFM) is 4th, 32 seconds further adrift.

 

Caja Rural wants the points jersey

The 166,3km stage was the last chance for the climbers and the traditional queen stage to the top of the HC climb Alto da Torre. The first part of the stage followed mostly flat roads but the final half was brutal, containing a big mountain which preceded the final climb to the finish.

 

Points leader Manuel Cardoso (Caja Rural) knew that he faced an uphill battle to win his jersey with two big GC days on Friday and Saturday before the final sprint stage on Sunday. Hence, he was intent on keeping everything together for the first intermediate sprint and his team did a fabulous job in the aggressive early part to make sure that their Portuguese sprinter took maximum points.

 

A group is formed

After the sprint, Caja Rural finally released their firm grip on the race but it still took some time for the day's early move to form. Finally, 8 riders got clear and when 3 riders bridged across, an 11-rider group was created at the 37km mark.

 

KOM leader Marcio Barbosa (LA Aluminios), Arkaitz Duran (Efapel), Sergio Sousa (Efapel), Javier Ramirez (Radio Popular), David Livramento (Banco Bic), Eduard Prades (OFM), Ruben Fernandez (Caja Rural), Fabien Schmidt (Sojasun), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM), Florian Guillou (Bretagne) and Davide Gaburro (Ceramica Flaminia) formed the day's early move and they were allowed to build up a big gap while Pardilla's MTN-Qhubeka team set a steady pace on the front of the peloton. At the bottom of the first big climb, the advantage was 5.30.

 

Efapel prepare a win for Sousa

Efapel had, however, big plans for Sousa today and as they had done on most of the climbs in the race so far, the team hit the front as soon as the road started to point upwards. Their massive acceleration sent many riders out the back door as the main group severely whittled down.

 

Ramirez, Fernandez and Saramotins fell off the pace in the front group but the latter did a huge effort to get back on. Meanwhile, the hard pace by Efapel had reduced the time gap to just 3 minutes by the time they reached the first KOM sprint midway up the climb.

 

Brandao does an amazing job

Just before the top of the climb, Ramirez and Fernandez were caught by the peloton in which Portuguese champion Joni Brandao had done an outstanding job all the way up the climb. The Efapel team was still very well-represented and made sure to keep the speed high as they headed down the descent.

 

On a small climb midway down the mountain, Livramento launched an attack and only Sousa was able to respond. Saramotins once again fell off the pace and this time there was no coming back, the Latvian being absorbed by the main group.

 

The front group splits up

At the bottom of the final climb, the front duo were around 50 seconds ahead of their chasers while the peloton was at 2.25. Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne) had made an attempt to bridge across to the chase group but the Norwegian had had no success.

 

Sousa attacked from the bottom of the mountain and left Livramento behind who fell back to the chase group which now only consisted of Guillou, Barbosa and Duran. Those three riders left Livramento behind and got back up to the lone race leader.

 

Pardilla in difficulty

Sousa made one last contribution to his teammate Duran who attacked a little later and this time only Barbosa was able to keep up. Those two riders continued on their own while their former companions fell back into the peloton which was still led by Efapel.

 

Pardilla came into difficulty from the very beginning of the climb, falling off the pace when Brandao had finished his job and left the pace-setting to an Efapel teammate. From there, the Spaniard kept losing time all the way to the top, often being overtaken by riders who were far behind him on GC.

 

Efapel attacks

With 18km to go, Efapel decided that it was time to test their rivals and so Hernani Broco launched an attack. Sousa made an immediate countermove, dragging along only Edgar Pinto (LA Aluminios), Hugo Sancho (LA Aluminios), Daniel Silva (Onda), Celio Sousa (Onda) and Virgilio Santos (Onda). They caught Barbosa who has left Duran behind to be the lone leader of the race for a little while.

 

Sousa now found himself isolated and so the three Onda riders decided to apply the pressure, using Sousa as the pace-setter for a long time. A small group with Veloso, Alejandro Marque (OFM), Delio Fernandez (OFM), Broco, Nuno Ribeiro (Efapel) and Marcel Wyss (IAM) made it back up to form the 13-rider group that would contest the stage win.

 

More attacks

Sousa did a huge work for a long time until Sousa decided to once again test his rivals at the 14km to go mark. Only Pinto, Veloso, Silva and Santos could respond and with two Onda riders present, Silva asked Santos to keep up the pace. Marque and Broco got back on and a little later, the 13-rider group was back together, Sousa once again hitting the front.

 

With 9km to go, the next attack was launched by Broco and immediately countered by Silva. This time the group splintered for good as only Sousa, Pinto, Silva, Veloso, Broco, Marque and Santos remained in contention.

 

Santos leads the favourites up the final climb

Santos led all the way up the final part of the climb until Marque attacked with 3km to go. Santos fell off the pace as a consequence and from there Sousa decided to apply the pressure. The big favourite set a hard pace on the final part but all of his rivals were able to keep up.

 

Inside the final kilometre, Veloso launched his sprint and only Sousa was initially able to match his speed. In the end, it also got too much for the race favourite who had to settle for second but did enough to take over the race lead on the eve of the final time trial.

 

Result:

1. Gustavo Cesar Veloso 5.03.26

2. Rui Sousa +0.01

3. Daniel Silva +0.06

4. Edgar Pinto

5. Alejandro Marque +0.15

6. Hernani Broco

7. Virgilio Santos +0.28

8. Nuno Ribeiro +1.09

9. Hugo Sancho +1.11

10. Marcel Wyss +1.13

 

General classification:

1. Rui Sousa 39.11.58

2. Gustavo Cesar Veloso +0.06

3. Hernani Broco +0.31

4. Alejandro Marque +0.38

5. Daniel Silva +0.51

6. Edgar Pinto +0.52

7. Virgilio Santos +1.35

8. Marcel Wyss +2.02

9. Nuno Ribeiro +2.35

10. Vladislav Gorbunov +4.55

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