Volta ao Algarve

Porte climbs to victory

Australian takes brilliant stage win in Algarve

Last updated: 19th February 2012

A superb display of climbing gave Team Sky's Richie Porte the stage win and overall lead after stage three of the Volta ao Algarve.

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The Australian powered away from the rest of the field on the slopes of the Alto do Malhao, taking the victory by eight seconds ahead of Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan).

Machado and fellow home favourite Rui Costa (Movistar) trailed into Loule together after being unable to hold the wheel of the 27-year-old Australian on the punishing climb.

The display also gave Porte the yellow jersey of the overall leader, with Edvald Boasson Hagen giving up top spot after himself contributing to the victory with a huge turn on the lower slopes of the Malhao.

Bradley Wiggins managed to come home inside the top 10 despite taking a monster turn on the front which helped distance some of the best climbers in the peloton.

Courtesy of bonus seconds on the line, Porte now carries a lead of 12 seconds into the final two stages, as well as distancing a number of key rivals ahead of Sunday's time trial.

Stunning display

After a brilliant ride in the final kilometres we caught up with Porte who admitted: “It wasn’t hard with that team. They were incredible!

“You don’t really want to single out one person as they were all incredible. You see Zandio and Kosta on the front the whole day. It was a hard stage and they got dropped but then they come back with bidons and food with 60k to go. For me that just shows what this team is all about.

“Froomey, Thomas and Lars did brilliant work, then Edvald and Brad on the climb. It just worked like clockwork. I know in cycling it doesn’t always happen like that. It’s a team victory but to then get the glory of riding across the line first is great.”

Now with a race lead and a yellow to defend over the remaining two stages, Porte insists he is just “happy to be enjoying his job again.”

He continued: “When I look down the leaderboard obviously there’s Tony Martin (+50 seconds), the world champion. Time trialling is usually my forte as well so we’ll see. Even a day in yellow and a stage is great, as well as Eddy yesterday – it’s just nice to be enjoying riding my bike again and that’s credit to Team Sky.”

After the stage Sports Director Sean Yates gave a rave review of the team’s performance – branding it the most impressive display he’s seen during his time in the Team Sky team car.

He said: “It all went to plan and obviously Richie did the business at the end. We did the maximum to tire the opposition out so Richie could gain the most time with the time trial in view.

“The boys rode fantastically and everything was done to the tee. There were bodies everywhere today it was a really hard stage. It was pretty hardcore to see the damage done.

Tough test

“They all committed and they all delivered, including Richie who was the ultimate guy and the real pressure was on him really. The rest knew and we were going to carry out the plan, whether Richie won or not. And obviously Richie carried it out at the end and delivered the win which everyone is really happy about that.”

With each member of the team perfectly executing their role, Yates went on to say: “It was a big, big display from the team - the biggest display that I’ve been a part of in Team Sky. The terrain was tough and it was carried out to the letter. When you look at our squad we’ve got some serious horsepower there.

“Now we’ve got to defend the jersey. That’s our main goal. The sprint could suit Edvald tomorrow so we’ll see. It’s the same situation we found ourselves in last year and it should be another good day out.”

The biggest test of the race for the general classification contenders, the 194.6-kilometre test from Castro Marim was always going to come down to the final ascent.

No less than five categorised ascents lay in wait for the peloton - with a quartet of category three climbs first up in the shape of the Portela do Barranco, Vermelhos, Cavalos and Soitos respectively.

A significant group of eight riders saw the undulations as an opportunity and pushed clear of the peloton, opening out a gap in excess of seven minutes on the road before Team Sky took up the chase.

With the peloton motoring things came back together ahead of the Cavalos climb, with Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) making a speculative dig down the descent.

Team Sky monitored events before bringing things back together, with the race then on to position each team's leader ahead of the pivotal climb.

At the foot of the climb, Wiggins hit the front hard and quickly splintered the peloton as overnight leader Boasson Hagen dropped back.

An attack by Machado marked the end of Wiggins turn on the front, but it was Porte who countered the move and accelerated away from the rest in dominant style to give the team their second victory in consecutive years at the summit.

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