Contador gives Astana first season win in Algarve stage
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Contador gives Astana first season win in Algarve stage

by Bjorn Haake at 11:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

Alberto Contador opened his account early this season by taking today's stage in the Volta ao Algarve, run over 180km from Castro Marim to the Alto do Malhão. Contador attacked at the bottom of the 2.7 finishing climb and won with 11 seconds over Tiago Machado. Machado's RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer was third, 22 seconds back. Contador took over the leader's jersey from yesterday's stage winner André Greipel (HTC-Columbia).

Contador was delivered to the bottom of the climb through perfect work by his Astana teammates. “I'm thrilled by the work has done all the team, both yesterday and today. Everything worked out perfect. I was able to finish the job, but victory is especially for my teammates”, said Contador after stepping off the podium.

“Here begins the road,” he said referring to his Tour de France defense in July, “and I am delighted that after seven months without racing I have managed to win today because I did not expect it.”

He even had some help on that final climb with an average of nine percent, as David De La Fuente pulled hard at the front for his captain, leaving everyone else behind. Machado, who finished fourth in the overall in this race 12 months ago, went in pursuit mode. After De La Fuente had done his work and dropped back, Machado stayed close to Contador, but was unable to prevent  the Spaniard from winning.

A terrible opening phase

A group of seven riders quickly pulled away, but there was worse news for the peloton in the form of a parked car on the road. Gert Steegmans was the worst off and transferred to hospital. Manuel Cardoso (Fuji-Footon-Servetto) also had to abandon the race after a crash.

The front group with Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step), Edward King (Cervélo), Gonzalo Rabuñal and Nélson Oliveira (Xacobeo Galicia), Thomas de Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Bruno Saraiva (CC Loulé-Louletano-Aquashow) and Pieter Ghyllebert (An Post Sean Kelly Team) was undeterred by this.

De Gendt won the first sprint ahead of Weylandt and Saraiva. The peloton was already almost three minutes back after 25km. That gap stayed fairly constant, with a maximum of 3'40. At the second sprint (km 97) it was De Gendt again who won, this time ahead of Saraiva and Oliveira.

The gap now started to go down and it was a mere two minutes at the first KOM point (km 129), where De Gendt was again ahead of Saraiva and Oliveira. The top of the next climb was only three kilometers further, where De Gendt was in front of Saraiva again, but King came in third this time. The peloton was less than a minute back.

Individuals from the break got caught from the peloton and at km 145 Oliveira was the last one to be reeled in. Astana kept the pace high to discourage any attacks. In the end it was their captain who finished it off for the Kazakh team.

Results stage 3 Castro Marim - Alto do Malhão (180,7 km)

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 5h02m55s
2. Tiago Machado (Por/Team RadioShack) + 11s
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Team RadioShack) + 22s
4. Peter Velits (Svk/Team HTC-Columbia) s.t.
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA/Team HTC-Columbia) + 25s
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/Omega Pharma-Lotto) + 29s
7. Samuel Sánchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) + 31s
8. Rui Costa (Por/Caisse d'Epargne) + 33s
9. Luis León Sánchez (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) s.t.
10. Andreas Klöden (Ger/Team RadioShack)

Overall classification after stage 3

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 15h20m17s
2. Tiago Machado (Por/Team RadioShack) + 15s
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Team RadioShack) + 28s
4. Samuel Sánchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) + 35s
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA/Team HTC-Columbia) s.t.
6. Rui Costa (Por/Caisse d'Epargne) + 43s
7. Luis León Sánchez (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) s.t.
8. Matthew Lloyd (Aus/Omega Pharma-Lotto)
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger/Team RadioShack)
10. Joaquín Rodríguez (Spa/Katusha)



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