Philippe Gilbert takes Algarve opener with trademark late attack
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Philippe Gilbert takes Algarve opener with trademark late attack

by Ben Atkins at 11:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Volta ao Algarve
 
Alberto Contador’s return to the peloton passes without incident

philippe gilbertPhilippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto) won the first stage of the Volta ao Algarve between Faro and Albufeira with a trademark late attack. The Belgian classics star jumped away from the peloton in the final kilometre and managed to hold off the peloton, which was led home 5 seconds behind him by German sprinter Gerlad Ciolek (Quick Step); Gilbert’s new OmegaPharma-Lotto teammate André Greipel was third.

The hilly 157.5km course in the rolling south Portuguese hinterland was under a greater spotlight than usual as it marked the first race of the season for Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), who was cleared of any offence over his positive test for a trace amount of clenbuterol. Unsurprisingly the Spanish defending champion did not take part in any of the action on the stage and finished anonymously in the peloton.

Almost as soon as the stage started Arturo Mora (Caja Rural), Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare) and Ricardo Mestre (Tavira-Prio) escaped the peloton; the three riders were soon joined by César Fonte (Barbot-Siper) and the four of theme set about building an advantage over the rolling stage.

By the mid-point the quartet led by almost 7 minutes, but with so many top sprinters in the race the were not to be allowed to stay away to the finish.

The four rider break was steadily reeled in by the sprinters’ teams until they were finally caught in the closing stages; Mestre was the last to hold out against the peloton before he too was caught with 10km to go.

As the race approached the final kilometres there were a number of attacks as riders tried to get away, most notably from Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), but the peloton was complete as it passed under the flamme rouge marking the final kilometre.

Inside the final kilometre Gilbert used a small climb to make one of his trademark late attacks and the peloton was unable to catch him. The Belgian hung on to take his first win of the year, as he builds his form for the classics, with Ciolek winning the sprint royale behind him.

Result stage 1
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
2. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step @ 5s
3. André Greipel (Ger) OmegaPharma-Lotto
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervélo
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank
6. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank-SunGard
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Columbia
8. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis
10. Wouter Pouels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM

Standings after stage 1
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
2. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step @ 9s
3. André Greipel (Ger) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 11s
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervélo @ 15s
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank

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