Greipel takes close run sprint in Algarve stage 2
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greipel takes close run sprint in Algarve stage 2

by Ben Atkins at 2:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta ao Algarve

André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) won stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve in a bunch sprint ahead of Jurgen Roelandts (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The peloton cut the finish very close though, only catching David Vitoria (Footon-Servetto) inside the final 200m of the 207.5km stage.

Greipel said after the stage that he had not been on a good day, but with strong encouragement from his HTC-Columbia teammates, he managed to get through.  "My teammates were constantly telling me not to give up, and to keep trying, even though I thought I couldn't last because most of the day I felt terrible.  Then when we managed to pull back the last guy from the break very close to the finish, and I went for it.

"We expected a lot more attacks, but because the conditions were so hard everybody was dead and that didn't happen.  Then in the last 200 metres, when the climb steepened to about 15 percent, I finally went clear and got the win."  Greipel said he was pleased but surprised he had managed to succeed, and take the leader's jersey as well.  "I never thought I'd be able to hang on for so long, over all those climbs.  Okay, this race isn't the Tour de France, but it's still a special win, one I feel very proud of taking."

Vitoria, a Spaniard who now has a Swiss passport, was the last remaining member of a breakaway of five that escaped in the early kilometres of the hilly stage that was once again dominated by heavy rain and wind.

After 12km Vitoria, Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo TestTeam), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), Jerome Baugnies (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Michal Golas (Vacansoleil) broke away from the peloton. By mid-stage the quintet had built a lead of 12 minutes. Work from the Astana and la Française des Jeux teams began to peg the leaders back though, and the conditions and terrain made it tough for them to stay together.

Baugnies and Golas were the first to be dropped, and the remaining three began to increase their lead again. On the final climb with 30km to go Hunt too was dropped, leaving just Vitoria and Fouchard together. On the final rolling kilometres Fouchard was unable to stay with Vitoria and the Swiss-Spaniard continued alone.

His time in the breakaway began to tell on Vitoria and his lead over the peloton began to fall. With 10km to go he still had more than 2 minutes advantage, and with 5km to go he still had a minute and a half, but this came down rapidly as the reducing peloton smelled a catch.

Just as it looked like Vitoria would make it for a well-earned victory the peloton swept around him and Griepel led it home.

“It’s a pity,” said Vitoria after the stage, “because the stage was extremely hard due to the weather, and I bonked in the last three or four kilometres. Without that little breakdown, I’m sure I’d have reached the line, because they only caught me with 120 metres left. I knew that the final slope was really steep, but got on it with no energy.

“That said, I’m happy since several teams had to work together to chase me down,” he continued, “and that means I’ve given my best. I did what was in my reach, and that’s how cycling works: sometimes it makes you happy with less effort, and today, when I put in so much work, I was given no prize.”

With today’s victory and yesterday’s third place Greipel assumes the overall race lead.

Result stage 2:
1. André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
3. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 4s
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis @ 6s
5. Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil
6. Jose Rojas (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne
7. Joaquin Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha
8. Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
9. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) la Française des Jeux
10. Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step

Standings after stage 2:
1. André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2. Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) la Française des Jeux
3. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto


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