Too little benefit for so much fight
18 February 2012

Haut Var (s1) / Algarve (s4)

Madrazo, in Haut Var -with Rojas 7th into the Sprint- and Pardilla, in Algarve, lead Movistar Team's breakaway presence - tomorrow's ITT in Portugal -with Costa now 2nd overall- and France's mountain-top finish to decide the winners

Movistar Team did not find prize to their continuous combativity in a double race date on Sunday through the roads of France and Portugal. The fourth stage of the Volta ao Algarve saw the sprint victory by Gerald Ciolek (OPQ) after a 186k race from Vilamoura to Tavira marked by a long breakaway, 150 kilometers for ten riders including Sergio Pardilla. The Spanish rider in Movistar Team colours, 18th in the overall, took a chance before the decisive individual time trial at Portimao on Sunday (26.5km), his least remarkable ability. Pardilla couldn’t resist the peloton chasing him down into the final 10k.

With no big changes in the GC, Australian Richie Porte (SKY) will depart from the starting box tomorrow as the race leader, with Rui Costa right behind him thanks to the two bonus seconds earned into the day’s first intermediate sprint, making him jump into 2nd overall with the same time loss -12 seconds- from his countryman Tiago Machado (RNT). Movistar Team will also defend their leadership at the squads’ competition in a hard fight against Vacansoleil (12 seconds back) and just over a minute on Sky, Saxo Bank and Lotto.

Madrazo out of energy into finishing circuit
In turn, the opening stage of the Tour du Haut Var in France saw the victory by local rider Romain Hardy (BSC) at the finish of La Croix Valmer after 189k, the Frenchman attacking right from the start with six other riders, Ángel Madrazo between those. The young Cantabrian could not keep the pace by Hardy and his fellow countryman Clément Koretzky (LPM) after the last climb of the day, less than 30k from the finish, and was reeled back by the peloton as Movistar Team was moving their cards in the final kilometers, first with an attempt by Giovanni Visconti six ten other riders, then with the final sprint where José Joaquín Rojas took 7th while other five Blue riders came into the bunch.

The two-day race through the Côte d’Azur department will get decided tomorrow with the hardest stage: 205 kilometers from Fréjus to the Mur de Fayence, a steep, 26% finish following a mountain trek with four categorized cols: -Marjories (Cat. 1), Mons (HC), Saint Arnoux (Cat. 2) and Belhomme (Cat. 1)- plus the non-counted, yet hard pass through Montauroux (23%) halfway through the stage.