Sergio Henao put up a valiant defence of his race lead at the Volta ao Algarve but was forced to relinquish the yellow jersey on the final stage while Rigoberto Urán took tenth overall.
The Colombian rolled down the ramp in Castro Marim with a slender seven-second lead to defend, a tough ask for a rider who is much better suited to the climbs.
After his stage three heroics on the Alto do Malhao Henao closed out the race with 14th place on the stage amongst some strong time trialling competition, an impressive result for the Colombian who finished the race in 13th.
Compatriot Urán delivered a strong time on the 34.8-kilometre decider to take 11th on the stage, his effort of 47:51 securing him 10th position overall. Six of the eight riders finished inside the top 30 on the stage in an impressive show of consistency.
Out on course there was no stopping time trial world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) as he blitzed the competition on the way to a stage and race win double.
The German’s time of 57 minutes and seven seconds was 1:07 better than the next best effort, that coming from team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski who in turn was eight seconds ahead of Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Leopard).
That all translated into a 58-second victory for Martin, repeating his 2011 victory in the same event. Kwiatkowski followed home his team-mate, narrowly fending off Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) by a single second.
Josh Edmondson rounded out an impressive first stage race of his neo-pro campaign with 16th overall.
Time trial decider
With early rain showers subsiding the leading contenders were able to prepare for the stage knowing they would be competing on a level playing field.
Danny Pate was first out of the blocks for Team Sky, his time of 49:17 putting him second fastest initially. David Lopez also setting a strong time of 49:10 after a day in the break on Saturday.
With the big names arriving it was Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) who swept to the top of the time sheets 48:05, only to be handily beaten by Sergent, the Kiwi rider the first man into the 46-minute mark.
Ominously for the rest of the field, world champion Martin blasted through the intermediate split with a new benchmark of 26:27. Last man on the road Henao was 13th quickest at the same point during a gutsy ride.
Plenty of positives
After the final stage Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist praised the effort of the riders in the time trial and also reflected on the race as a whole.
“The guys put in good rides today," he said. "Rigoberto was able to get up there and secure a top 10 overall which is great. Obviously a climber like Sergio is always going to lose something against the pure TT specialists. We knew it was going to be tough to defend the jersey but he pulled out a good ride all things considered.
“Yesterday was a great day for us. Realistically that was the stage where we had the best chance and the team did great to pull off the win there. We couldn’t ask any more than that and to win on that climb three years in a row is impressive. We’d like to keep that record going!”