Kittel wins points jersey in Algarve
The German put an end to an excellent week by taking his second points classification victory of the year.
Marcel Kittel came in the Volta ao Algarve after conquering two stages, the overall and the points standings at the Dubai Tour, and he continued to display that impressive form also in the five-day Portuguese race. Kittel was on a rampage in both flat stages of the event, winning each time with a clear margin and confirming his supremacy in the sprints. The two wins he nabbed in Algarve (Albufeira and Tavira) meant Marcel topped the points classification in the race, this being the first time in six years that a German rider managed this feat.
"Volta ao Algarve was more than I have expected in first place. My goal was to win a stage, which I did, on Wednesday. That was really nice. In the end, to get another victory and the green jersey was really incredible. Besides these results, another important thing was to continue working with the team. We made new steps into the right direction, which is really great, and that's another achievement for our squad", said Marcel Kittel, whose next event of the season will be Paris-Nice (March 6-13).
The last stage of the event was a fast one, with a high pace since the first crossing of the Alto de Malhão, and that's were the peloton split, among those to be distanced being also Tony Martin, the general classification leader, who had a hard-working Niki Terpstra with him for the rest of the stage. After the day's break was caught in the last 20 kilometers, it was all together until 2 kilometers to go, when Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) surged clear on the climb and took the win, followed by Fabio Aru (Astana) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). In the standings, it was Geraint Thomas the one who finished at the top, ahead of Ion Izagirre (Movistar) and Contador.
Although he couldn't keep his yellow jersey, Tony Martin was upbeat at the finish: "The stage was hard and I tried to do my best to defend the lead, but I lost contact on the first ascent of Malhão and it was all over there. Overall, it was a great week for us, with two stage wins to Marcel's name and a couple of days in the leader's jersey. I want to thank the team for the support I received today. The guys believed in me and gave all, but unfortunately the legs weren't there today. Now I will take some time to recover, before heading to Belgium for the first Classics of the season. I can't wait to ride there!"
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele