Roelandts Sprints to Fifth Place on Opening Day in Portugal14. February 2018, Lagos (POR) — Road Team
Jürgen Roelandts sprinted to fifth place in the expected bunch sprint in Lagos after a long and relatively calm stage 1 of Volta ao Algarve, which saw Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen make their European and season debuts respectively.
Five riders went clear after just 2km of racing but despite the 190km of mostly flat terrain that lay ahead, the peloton kept their advantage to within three minutes for most of the stage.
At the halfway mark, the advantage was hovering under two minutes and from there the peloton worked to bring the last two remaining breakaway riders back in the last 25km.
As the catch was made with 15km to go, Stefan Küng jumped clear with four other riders but the group was soon brought back as the sprinters’ teams gained control of the situation.
All BMC Racing Team riders avoided a crash in the peloton with 10km to go and from there, Küng led Roelandts through the hectic run into the finish.
Roelandts was well placed in the finale and found himself at the front as the bunch raced under the flamme rouge but in the end settled for fifth place behind winner, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Stage 2 of Volta ao Algarve is one for the climbers with the first summit finish to Foia on the cards.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a pretty quiet day until the race opened with 20km to go. It was pretty hectic in the finale but I stayed up the front with Stefan. We stayed out of trouble as I heard there was a crash behind us. I was looking a bit for my way and with 1km to go I was in first position which was too early. I lost my position and the flow of the sprint. I was four wheels behind Arnaud Demare and I stayed there. He ended up coming second but I think it was the best wheel. The sensations are good and my morale for the sprints is good after Valencia. It was nice to give it a try today and I think the next sprint on Saturday suits me better.”
“I wouldn’t say I felt great today but it was nice to get that first stage out of the way and my first race day in Europe. It was pretty hectic in the final but I managed to say out of trouble. The first summit finish comes tomorrow so it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Tejay van Garderen:
“The old habits and old routines come back. Hectic, nervous finals are never my favorite but we got through it ok I think. It was really fast in that first part and I didn’t understand why we didn’t give the breakaway more of a gap. We were moving really quickly but then the breakaway sort of started to die so then we went really slow. Fresh legs from the bunch started to jump and that’s when things got a little chaotic but all in all, it was a straightforward day. No big drama. The climb tomorrow is not super hard but it’s a 15km summit finish so it will test the legs for sure.”
Volta ao Algarve
Stage 1 Albuferia > Lagos (192.6km)
Top 3: 1. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), 2. Arnaud Demare (FDJ), 3. Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 5. Jürgen Roelandts, 30. Loïc Vliegen, 51. Tejay van Garderen.