Quick-Step Floors on the attack in Algarve queen-stage
Bob Jungels will head into Friday's individual time trial just three seconds off first place, after finishing seventh on Alto da Foia.
Top 20 in last week's Dubai Tour, where he was part of the team that helped Elia Viviani win the overall classification and two stages, Yves Lampaert infiltrated in a break that forged clear soon after the start of Volta ao Algarve stage 2, where he was joined by six other men. The escapees padded their lead to eight minutes after 40 kilometers, but the peloton stayed attentive and launched a concerted chase in the second part of the stage between Sagres and Foia, bringing them within reach inside the final 30 kilometers.
Somehow, the attackers managed to extend their break again to three minutes, but once the road began to rise, their long adventure at the front came to an end. First moves on Alto da Foia (6 kilometers, 7.3%) were launched four and a half kilometers from home, when a five-rider group took off. Philippe Gilbert, who came into the race off the back of a solid display in last Saturday's Vuelta a Murcia, was there for Quick-Step Floors, but the bunch, even though severely reduced, kept them in a tight leash and brought the quintet to heel before the last two kilometers.
With no one capable of putting in an all-out attack, the stage victor was decided in the closing meters, where Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) topped Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and teammate Geraint Thomas, the new race leader. Both Bob Jungels and Pieter Serry were in the second group, which numbered only a handful of riders, and crossed the line just three seconds behind them. Their presence there, together with Maximilian Schachmann's remarkable 15th place at the top of the first-category ascent, meant that Quick-Step Floors retained the lead in the team classification.
"It's not the hardest climb, but on the first mountain top finish of the season you're always nervous, because you never know what your condition is. But I remained calm and helped by a great team, which covered the moves, protected me and helped me in the finale, I got a nice result and a confirmation of the good altitude training camp I had last month. Now I hope to show this again in tomorrow's time trial", said the Luxembourg Champion, who sits in seventh overall ahead of Friday's 20.3km ITT, after passing the first test of the season.
Photo: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images