Candido Barbosa, before his
rivals pushed him into
the river for winning too much
With high temperatures but high spirits, the Volta ao Algarve peloton rolled out of Castro Marim with 202km ahead, and had a new look, with some of the new faces in the peloton, as several European teams have come here to try to gain training miles (among them US Postal and Lance Armstrong) or form. Oh, and UCI points!
LA Pecol, realising that Alberto Benito was in as rich a vein of form as their sprinter Candido Barbosa, chased down the early attempted attacks to set up their man for the Meta Volante at 26km. And he didn't disappoint, beating Stuart O'Grady in the sprint whilst his teammate and compatriot Pedro Lopes helpfully pushed Benito out of any time bonuses by taking third.
Going over the line, a short, sharp Cat 3 loomed and the climbers (or those interested in the climbers jersey, to any extent!) reared their skinny bodies, and encouraged their trusty steads uphill. It was Portuguese rider Goncalo Amorim (Milaneza), on his Orbea, who came over the top first, ahead of current mountains leader Staf Scheirlinckx of Cofidis, after yesterday's escapade.
However, they weren't allowed any space and were quickly pulled back by the peloton.
The break of the day saw three riders get away: 24 year-old Eric Berthou, riding in Division I for RAGT Semences after a breakthrough 2003 with Team Barloworld, Spanish cyclo-cross/road rider Israel Nunez (ASC-Villa do Conde) and neo-pro Kurt Hoevelinck, riding with Div III youth outfit Jong Vlaanderen 2016. They crossed the second Cat 3, and final climb of the day with 65km to go, in that order.
With the peloton well-marshalled by Milaneza, LA Pecol and, intermittently, US Postal, the break was doomed, and Israel Nunez sat up before the Meta Volante at 170km, to be caught.
Berthou crossed ahead of Hoevelinck, and they pressed on for 20km before being caught by the peloton. Another bunch sprint!
This time, nobody could hold Candido Barbosa's wheel as he exploded from the front of the peloton and held off yesterday's winner Alberto Benito, for another win - his third stage of the year, and fourth win overall. Stuart O'Grady took a good third behind these two Portuguese drag racers, with Relax-Bodysol man James Vanlandschoot fourth and 19 year old Rabobank Espoir Jukka Vasturanta fifth. Angel Edo (Milaneza) could only manage seventh, though he normally monopolises Portuguese sprint contests, against Barbosa. Is the 33 year old running out of juice?
Twelve men were dropped, including Floyd Landis who lost 1'04" - maybe the victim of a puncture, crash or just early-season bad legs? Lance Armstrong rolled in comfortably, again, in the midst of the peloton in 71st place.
Because of the three seconds gained by the first Meta Volante, Candido Barbosa will now wear the leader's jersey for tomorrow's tougher stage, over an early Cat 2 and Cat 3 climb, before a flattish run-in to the finish; surely no trouble for him. Barbosa, overall winner here twice and whose stage count is in double figures, is gradually collecting bonus seconds; he can time trial and sprint well, and climb adequately - it could be too early to think of overall victory for Barbosa, but it is a definite possibility.
The "Portuguese Valverde" celebrates another win
Volta ao Algarve - Stage 2: Castro Marim-Portimao, 202.0km
Top 10 Places
1. Candido Barbosa (LA Pecol, POR) 4h 46m 13s (10" bonus)
2. Alberto Benito (Antarte-Rota do Moveis, SPA) at same time (6" bonus)
3. Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis, AUS) s.t (4" bonus)
4. James Vanlandschoot (Relax-Bodysol, BEL) s.t
5. Jukka Vastaranta (Rabobank, FIN) s.t
6. Martin Garrido (Barbot-Gaia, ARG) s.t
7. Angel Edo (Milaneza-Maia, SPA) s.t
8. Bas Giling (Rabobank, NED) s.t
9. Sven Renders (Jong Vlaanderen 2016, BEL) s.t
10. Geert Steurs (Jong Vlaanderen 2016, BEL) s.t
71. Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service supported by Berry Floor) s.t
General Classification after Stage 1
1. Candido Barbosa (LA Pecol) 8h 13m 44s
2. Alberto Benito (Antarte-Rota do Moveis) at 3 seconds
3. Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) at 13"
4. Jordi Berenguer (Beppi-Ovarense, SPA) at 14"
5. Angel Edo (Milaneza-Maia) at 15"
6. Wim de Vocht (Relax-Bodysol, BEL) s.t
7. Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis, BEL) at 16"
8. Eric Berthou (RAGT Semences-Rover, FRA) s.t
9. Kurt Hoevelinck (Jong Vlaanderen 2016, BEL) at 17"
10. Pedro Lopes (LA Pecol, POR) at 18"
84. Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service supported by Berry Floor) at 19"
Candido Barbosa (LA Pecol) 48 points
Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) 8 pts.
Jordi Berenguer (Beppi-Ovarense) 5 pts.