Friday, March 22, 2013

Volta ao Alentejo: Hanson storms into Mértola

Ken Hanson (left) overtakes Filipe Cardoso for the win
Ken Hanson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) finally got a chance to open up his sprinting legs and took the bunch sprint into Mértola for the 3rd stage of the Volta ao Alentejo. On a day that was marked with multiple breakaway attempts, the peloton shut down the last move with 10km to go and the pace began to quicken. Hanson took advantage of the sprint run-up as he was able to get into prime position and secured his victory over Filipe Cardoso (Efapel-Glassdrive) and Bruno Sancho (Carmin-Tavira). Stage 2 winner Jasper Stuyven came in 4th today and consolidated his 14 second lead over Chad Haga (Optum KBS).

Once again, racing was off to a fast start as a breakaway tried to get away early. At 27km, four riders in Luis Afonso (LA Aluminios), Raul Alarcon (Louletano), Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank Devo) and Sam Spokes (Etixx-iHNed) took to the lead. This breakaway was short-lived and after the first sprint point, the break was reeled in. While this happened, Jack Adams (Zappi's) got a gap and was left out front. 3 more in Luis Fernandes, Edgar Pinto and Lennard Hofstede (Rabobank Devo) joined him but by 50 kilometers, the peloton was once again back together. Afonso, Alarcon, João Leal and David Livramento then escaped but didn't last more than 15 kilometers.

A group of 15 riders attempted for get at 90 kilometers but a Bontrager-led peloton brought them back before 10km had been done. The most successful breakaway of the day happened when Sergio Ribeiro (Louletano) attacked after the peloton came together again and was followed by Ruben  Zepuntke, Ricardo van Dongen (Rabobank Devo) and Marcio Barbosa (LA Aluminium). Both van Dongen and Barbosa eventually faded while the former two pressed on, only to finally be caught ten kilometers before the line.

Efapel's Filipe Cardoso nearly pulled off an upset with a late race attack in the final kilometers. Optum turned up the tempo coming into the finishing straight to catch the streaking Cardoso. With about 200 meters to go, Hanson unleashed his sprint and passed Cardoso inside the last 200 meters to secure his 2nd win in Portugal this week. Cardoso barely managed to hang on for 2nd as he was caught right near the finish line.

  1. Ken Hanson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) 4:15'23"
  2. Filipe Cardoso (Efapel-Glassdrive) all s.t.
  3. Bruno Sancho (Carmin-Tavira)
  4. Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager CT)
  5. Louis Verhelst (Etixx-iHNed)
  6. Daniel Hoelgaard (Etixx-iHNed)
  7. Yoeri Havik (De Rijke-Shanks)
  8. Carlos Barbero (Euskadi)
Tomorrow is another flatter stage into Odemira. One possibility is crosswinds as the peloton will head along the ocean front near the end of the race. GC riders will be near the front and will look to protect their positions until the more important stage on Sunday in Santiago do Cacém.

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