Algarve (st. 4) / Haut Var (st. 1)
Long, early break by Lastras leads great image by Movistar Team in Algarve, also sending Gorka Izagirre into late move. 7th place for Ventoso at Haut Var opener
With no real GC chances in the Volta ao Algarve after a costly, unfortunate puncture by Jonathan Castroviejo in Friday’s TT, the Movistar Team riders stayed offensive until the very end of the Queen stage. The Alto do Malhao (Cat-1), end of a 165km trek starting at Almodovar, saw the telephone squad show its guts, with their road captain Pablo Lastras as main reference of the day.
The Madrilian rode away with seven other riders right from the start, the group later reduced to De Vreese (WGG), Engoulvent (EUC), Voss (TNE), Rubio (EFG) and ‘Penkas’ at the first passage through the finish, their initial, five-minute gap reduced to a minimum after notable attacks from Horner (LAM) and Parra (CJR). After the group was neutralized with 30k remaining, a counter-attack surged with Belkov (KAT), Thurau (EUC), Pujol (SKD) and Movistar Team’s Gorka Izagirre, whose vailant effort, ultimately continued alongside Thuray, was caught with 8km left.
Alberto Contador (TCS) claimed the stage win as Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQ) kept the yellow jersey in the eve of a mere formality stage to Vilamoura on Sunday. Jesús Herrada, Castroviejo and Adriano Malori crossed the finish in positions 18 to 20, fourty seconds behind the day’s victor.
Betancur claims surprise win in France
In turn, a day suiting sprinters would eventually see Carlos Betancur (ALM) claiming the first leader jersey of the 46th Tour du Haut Var, a two-day, weekend race in the Côte d’Azur that will finish tomorrow after its opening 149km were ridden today from Le Cannet des Maures to La Croix Valmer. The Colombian rider surprised big favourite John Degenkolb (GIA) into a finish where three Movistar Team riders took top-20 places: Fran Ventoso (7th), John Gadret (13th) and Andrey Amador (16th). It’s a good perspective for the Blue squad, which will find better terrain to shine on Sunday with no less than seven noteworthy climbs in the 203km loop around Draguignan.