Thursday, March 21, 2013

Volta ao Alentejo: Stuyven & Bontrager CT dominate in Portel

Jasper Stuyven and his Bontrager team dominated the 2nd stage into Portel in the 31st Volta ao Alentejo. After finishing 7th yesterday on the uphill finish into Marvão, Stuyven and teammate Tanner Putt got into the 11-man breakaway after the first and only KOM sprint of the day that would go all the way to the line. Stuyven would then crush the technical and slightly uphill sprint into Portel and not only take the win but also take the leader's jersey from yesterday's stage winner Daniel Silva.

The race started out quick with a 43 kph average for the first hour. A group of 15 took off early in the stage that include multiple young teams in Bontrager (Stuyven, Oram and Mannion), Rabobank Development (Tusveld), Etixx-iHNed (Konrad and Verhelst) and Euskadi (Bizkarra). Stuyven took the first sprint point at Vila Viçosa. The group of 15 was brought back at kilometer 43 by the peloton but that wouldn't be the last time a break got up the road.

Stuyven took 2nd at the next sprint point and soon after another breakaway was launched, this time with 10 riders. This group, which contained riders from nine different teams, got a gap of around 40 seconds before it was shut down by Portuguese powerhouse Epafel-Glassdrive, who had missed out on the breakaway. Stuyven again sprinted to second at the next sprint points and gained more precious seconds for the general classification.

At the base of the climb into Monsaraz, a group of 11 riders broke away from the peloton that would shape the rest of the race. They included: Jasper Stuyven, Tanner Putt (Bontrager) Louis Verhelst, Sam Spokes, Dieter Bouvry (Etixx-iHNed) Chad Haga (Optum) Filipe Cardoso (Epafel-Glassdrive) Alejandro Marque, Gustavo Veloso, Delio Fernandez (OFM) and Carlos Oyarzun (Louletano). With the majority of the big teams represented, the gap grew out to nearly 2 minutes. Carmin-Tavira and Euskadi began to chase with 35km to go but it was too late as the breakaway was working well together.

Coming into Portel, Stuyven took to the front and easily won the sprint from Haga and Oyarzun. Unexpectedly, all three of the Etixx-iHNed riders were distanced in the sprint and lost time to Stuyven. In any case, the race was blown wide open today with this breakaway and the overall winner of the race will most likely come from this breakaway.
EDIT: After reading Optum DS Jonas Carney's write up of the stage, my writing needs to be edited. Chad Haga attacked the break with 2km to go and Stuyven went with him. The gap was never very big but they started to get reeled in with 500 meters to go. At 300m, Stuyven launched his sprint and won the stage while Haga hung onto 2nd.

Full Results

Stage Results
  1. Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager)
  2. Chad Haga (Optum)
  3. Carlos Oyarzun (Louletano)
  4. Alejandro Marque (OFM)
  5. Filipe Cardoso (Epafel-Glassdrive)
  6. Tanner Putt (Bontrager-Livestrong)
  7. Dieter Bouvry (Etixx-iHNed) +6
  8. Louis Verhelst (Etixx-iHNed) +8
  9. Sam Spokes (Etixx-iHNed) +10
General Classification
  1. Jasper Stuyven
  2. Chad Haga +11
  3. Alejandro Marque +16
  4. Tanner Putt +28
  5. Delio Fernandez (OFM) +29
  6. Carlos Oyarzun +38
  7. Dieter Bouvry +59
Yesterday's stage winner Daniel Silva still leads the mountains classification with Karel Hnik (Etixx-iHNEd) in 2nd. Stuyven is also in the points jersey but with his overall lead, Chad Haga will be wearing the points jersey during tomorrow's stage. 

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