Volta ao Algarve

Team bide time in Algarve

Fast men foiled in Albufeira

Last updated: 15th February 2013

Team Sky finished in the pack as the Volta ao Algarve got under way with a stage for the sprinters.

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With the race likely to be won by an all-rounder, the defending champions endeavoured to finish the stage without drama ahead of two highly selective final days on Saturday and Sunday.

With no designated fast men in the team it was left to the other squads to control proceedings, Paul Martens (Blanco Cycling) eventually taking the spoils and the early race lead as he upset the pure sprinters to claim stage one glory.

The German bested Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Leopard) in a late breakaway while Theo Bos (Blanco Cycling) led home the bunch in Albufeira. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step set the pace for much of the day on behalf of Mark Cavendish – the Manxman placing sixth on the day.

Martens now heads into stage two with a four-second lead courtesy of time bonuses picked up at the finish.

Earlier a five-man break headed up the road as the race left Faro, the quintet lasting until the 9km-to-go banner as the race looked set for a bunch kick. Yet the two attackers had other ideas to dethrone the sprinters on the opening day.

Going to plan

With the first stage in the books Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist told us he was happy with how the stage panned out as the team finished safely.

"The day went to plan for us. Quick-Step showed straight away that they wanted to control it for Cav. Today was one of two possible sprint days. Finally a group of five went away and stayed away. Those guys controlled things which allowed us to sit back.

"In the end it was quite chaotic coming into the finish. There was a small climb near the end. Everybody knew about it but it did more damage than people thought so they couldn't control it.

"We're on track for our aims with the GC. The uphill finish on Saturday is certainly a stage that suits us more so we'll look to put ourselves in a good position for that."

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