Van Garderen Climbs to Third at Volta ao Algarve18. February 2018, Malta (POR) — Road Team
Tejay van Garderen climbed onto the podium at the Volta ao Algarve on the final stage of racing in an impressive display on the summit finish to Malhao, in what was his first race of the season.
With five climbs across 173km of racing, stage 5 was billed as a battle for the General Classification but it was a win for the breakaway with Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) taking the solo stage win and claiming the overall victory.
It was a battle for the breakaway in the first hour and after multiple attempts were neutralized, it was eventually a group of 31 riders including Stefan Küng and Jürgen Roelandts that went clear after 19km.
With most teams represented and a breakaway of 31 riders, it was inevitable that the group would split up which first happened on the approach to the feed zone when Roelandts was one of seven riders to establish a gap.
The group came back together but going over the top of the climb to Malhão for the first time, the breakaway was in pieces with Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) forging a solo lead at the front of the race.
The rest of the group soon came back together as Küng and Roelandts helped to lead the chase, putting in strong turns at the front to try and close the gap to the lone leader.
As they reached the 20km to go mark, the gap had been cut from just under one minute to around 20 seconds as Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) launched his own attack to catch and eventually pass Pöstlberger.
At the bottom of the grueling final 2.5km climb, the race really started to heat up with the chase group exploding almost immediately and it was there that Kwiatkowski attacked and eventually closed the gap to Stybar.
Behind him, Küng dug deep, gritting his teeth as he battled it out in the closing stages of the race as part of a three-rider chasing group before crossing the line in fourth place, 14 seconds behind.
Having been over three minutes behind the front group with 15km to go, the riders in the main bunch had a lot of ground to make up on the approach to the Alto do Malhão, and as they hit the slopes of the climb, they also found themselves all across the road.
Van Garderen showed his early season form and was able to distance himself from the majority of the General Classification contenders with a strong attack with 600m to go, which saw him cross the line in 18th place and move from fifth to third overall.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
“I feel good. Team Sky was obviously really strong taking first and second, and three stage victories so they were a notch above us. To be third in the first race of the season shows that my form is progressing nicely and I’m where I need to be heading into the big goals.”
“I was confused when the breakaway went away. That whole tactic was quite strange. Kwiatkowski was second overall and he made the break. Team Sky could either chase for Thomas or be happy with Kwiatkowski winning the race and other teams were confused. It was pretty chaotic at that point but we had two guys up there so we could play off that and not do too much work. It was obvious that Kwiatkowski would be hard to catch on the General Classification anyway so the fact that he was up ahead didn’t really make a big difference to me. It was Bob Jungles (Quickstep-Floors) and Olivera (Movistar) that I needed to watch out for.”
“Dylan Teuns did an amazing lead into the climb and he had everyone on the limit on the short steel ramp with about 10km to go. He was still able to pull the first 700m of the final climb and from there, Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) put in an attack and I countered him with about 600 to go and was able to put in some good distance. It was only Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) who was able to stay with me. I knew that the stage win was gone so i wanted to get the most of it which was the podium.”
“It’s a steep climb and it’s a climb that has featured in the race around five times. It was my sixth time here so I knew what I was up against and knowing the climb was an advantage. but it didn’t make it any easier. Paris-nice has a similar layout, just a couple of days longer. There is one long gradual summit finish and a steep punchy stage so this was almost a trial run. The racing will be a higher level and probably worse weather but this was perfect preparation.”
“It was a weird start today with such a big breakaway and also with a GC contender in there. I mean we didn’t really commit to the breakaway and Jurgen and I kept rolling through. We knew that the breakaway wouldn’t stay together the whole day and we covered the attacks and tried to be in the dangerous moves. Then I was starting to feel better through the whole day. In the beginning I didn’t have the best feelings which kept me from spending too much energy. Then there were quite a few good climbers up there so it was hard against them because the final was quite steep. I gave it my best. It’s for sure a good result for me on such a stage and now the most important is that I know I’m ready for the classics and the upcoming races.”
Volta ao Algarve
Stage 5 Faro > Malhao (173.5km)
Top 3: 1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), 2. Ruben Guerrero (Trek-Segafredo), 3. Serge Pauwels (Dimension-Data)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 4. Stefan Küng, 16. Jurgen Roelandts, 18. Tejay van Garderen.
Top 3 on GC: 1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), 2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), 3. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team).
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.