Volta ao Alentejo (st. 3) / Abu Dhabi (st. 2)
Barbero takes 3rd in Mértola, claims an additional 9" bonus over Nocentini (STA) -now 12" behind- as he keeps yellow in Alentejo with two days to go in a really fast race
Colombian Sebastián Molano (POS) took the win on Friday at at a demanding stage three sprint finish (200m at 10%) of the Volta ao Alentejo in Mértola. The long, 208km route from Mourao was covered at an average exceeding 46kph, with plenty of attacks, pursuits, crashes and excellent control from a Movistar Team which fulfilled their goal of keeping Carlos Barbero in yellow. The Blues' designated leader for the Portuguese event, who finished 3rd despite getting boxed in into the final corner and having to restart his sprint almost from still, has significantly increased his advantage on top of the standings.
Much focused on profiting from the intermediate sprints, Barbero won two of the day's three rushes to gain 5" on Rinaldo Nocentini (STA), 2nd overall and arguably his biggest rival for the GC triumph, after Eduard Prades (CJR), 3rd this morning, had to abandon following a crash on stage two. The 4" bonus obtained via his third place at the finish increase the Burgos-born rider's gap to 12", a distance he'll try to defend into another nervous, windy stage towards Alcácer do Sal, Saturday, prelude of the race's finale in Évora.
Abu Dhabi Tour: Nairo tackles Jebel Hafeet in good condition
Stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour was another calm day for Nairo Quintana and a Movistar Team which solidly protected the Colombian before Saturday’s decisive mountain climb towards Jebel Hafeet (Cat-1). Many big names in the WorldTour will challenge the man from Boyacá, who will find a clear reference of his conditions in the 2017 early season as he chases the summit.
In turn, Marcel Kittel (QST) narrowly bested Caleb Ewan (ORS) at Al Marina, the Aussie prematurely celebrating before realizing the German had just gone past over the very finish line. No Blues featured at the sprint -Jesús Herrada, 28th, was the first Movistar Team finisher- as the Chente García Acosta-led squad focused entirely on saving energy to keep helping out its leader.
Picture ©: Volta ao Alentejo