Volta ao Algarve: Martin makes it two in a row for Quick-Step Floors
A day in which our team worked from start to finish concluded with the Irishman taking the victory and the yellow jersey.
Stage 2 of Volta ao Algarve (Lagoa – Alto da Foia, 189.3 kilometers) started with Fernando Gaviria in the yellow jersey, following his spectacular success on the opening day, but that didn't stop the Colombian prodigy from pulling hard at the front and helping his teammates control the seven-man breakaway which at one point had five minutes over the pack before succumbing on the penultimate ascent of the stage.
With the peloton strung out after Alto da Pomba, Quick-Step Floors picked up the pace at the foot of Alto da Foia, where Daniel Martin, neo-pro Enric Mas and Zdenek Stybar split the field and distanced all riders bar two, Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). Amaro Antunes (FC Porto) soon joined, but not for too long, as on the steepest part of the climb Dan put in a powerful surge, to which only the Slovenian could respond.
For his part, Roglic tested the waters and tried twice to dislodge the Quick-Step Floors rider, but Dan proved too strong and each time his opponent accelerated, he responded with ease. Soon, it became obvious the victor will emerge following a two-up sprint at the top of Alto da Foia, and Martin chose to start his acceleration just as they came out of a bend, with 200 meters left. His rival tried to come around on the right side of the road, but the Irishman held him off and brought the squad's 12th victory of the season.
"It's always difficult to win a race when people say you are the favourite, but I was lucky to have an incredible team around me. That was a fantastic teamwork, you could see that even Fernando, who was in yellow, rode in the wind for me. I arrived here on Sunday and went for a recon on Monday, so I knew the last climb and that it suited me. It was important to be at the front just as we started it, and the team delivered me in an excellent position."
Bottom end, it was a perfect day for us, and I got this nice win which is good for confidence
"Tomorrow we'll have an individual time trial, and I know that other riders are stronger in this discipline, but we will just see what happens", said a happy Martin, congratulated at the finish by his wife Jess, who lived her own special moment, as she witnessed him win for the first time.
By emerging victorious on the second day of the Portuguese event, Dan Martin took the yellow jersey, as well as the red and blue ones, which reward the leader of the points, respectively the KOM classification. On top of that, he also became the first Irish rider to score a stage win in Volta ao Algarve, which this year is running its 43rd edition.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele