Sunday, March 30, 2014

Caldeira takes rainy Volta ao Alentejo finale; Barbero takes overal

Barbero embracing his Basque teammate after a big win
In a rain-soaked finale to a great week of racing, Sammy Caldeira (OFM) won the final stage of the 32nd Volta ao Alentejo ahead of Haavard Blikra (Oster Hus) in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Evora. Without winning a stage, Carlos Barbero (Euskadi) was able to secure the overall classification by 10 seconds over Eduard Prades (OFM) and 17 seconds over Karel Hnik (Etixx).

The race started out really fast with an average of 48 km/h in the first hour of racing and many riders chose to abandon because of the weather and close proximity of Evora. A break of four, that included Portuguese champ Joni Brandão (Efapel), Michael Isidro (Louletano), Alex Darville (USA National) & Carter Jones (Optum), was finally able to roll away after the 1st intermediate sprint and able to get a gap. They were soon joined by Markus Hoelgaard (Etixx), Frederik Galta (Oster Hus), Mateusz Komar (BDC-Marcpol) and finally, Carlos Oyarzun (Efapel), who was able to join the breakaway after the only KOM spot on the map. During this time, Barbero did have a flat tire but was able to get a quick change and get back into the peloton.

A long, shitty day out for Oyarzun
Oyarzun was not done with his aggression because as soon as he joined the breakaway, he attacked the breakaway and went solo off the front. It was a bold move by the Chilean, who previously rode for Movistar, but he plowed onwards on the twisty circuit. In just 25 kilometers from his 2nd attack, Oyarzun had a gap of 2 minutes over the breakaway, which was just minutes from being absorbed by the peloton. Oyarzun continued to ride on solo in fine time trial form but with 20 kilometers to go, he was swallowed up by the peloton. Up until 5 kilometers to go, the peloton was together heading into the sprint finish. The final kilometer included a roundabout and two turns. Once the peloton cleared those obstacles, they went up a slight uphill cobbled road where the finish line was location.

Caldeira leading it out on the ancient streets of Evora
Sammy Caldeira led the sprint out over the uphill portion that he and Blikra broke away from those following from behind and Caldeira was able to take it ahead of the Norwegian, who finished 2 seconds down, as well as Francisco Moreno (Louletano), who led the remnants of the peloton in at 5 seconds. A crash had swept through the peloton in the finale but there were able to get the same time as the winner. Carlos Barbero came across the line 5th, just behind Moreno and American Alex Candelario (Optum), and was able to secure the overall win, which is his 1st win since taking a stage in the Ronde de l'Isard last year. Tanner Putt came in safely with the peloton to secure his 10th place overall as well as the youth jersey, which he won by 10 seconds over Jaime Roson (Ecuador).

Photos: Volta ao Alentejo

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