The final stage featured the second mountain top finish of this year’s race, with a decisive 2.7 kilometer-long climb with an average gradient of almost nine percent.
With the goal of finishing the race off with a stage win, it was important to have a CCC Team rider in the breakaway to hopefully support Antunes in the finale
After a fierce battle and a fast start to the stage, Jonas Koch managed to break clear and was part of a 13-man group.
The breakaway established an advantage of more than two minutes, and with the General Classification still undecided, it was the most the peloton let them gain.
In the hilly finale, the breakaway split with Koch making a select four-rider group on the penultimate climb of the day before eventually being caught by counterattacking riders from the bunch, with 14 kilometers remaining.
With strong riders up the road, Antunes decided to launch an early attack with 11 kilometers to go and made another move at the bottom of the final climb, after his initial attack was neutralized.
With a fierce battle between the General Classification contenders playing out on the final climb, Antunes wasn’t able to stay away and crossed the line in tenth place, 34 seconds behind stage winner, Zdenek Stybar (Decuenink-Quick Step).
Despite losing time from a crash on stage one, Antunes’ consistency throughout the week and a solid performance from his CCC Team teammates saw the Portuguese rider secure eighth place at the end of the five-day race, 2’52” behind winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
Quotes from the Finish Line:
It was very important to me to showcase myself today. There were so many fans on the side of the road who were cheering for me and supporting me. My name was again painted all over the climb, so I was very motivated to take the win today.
When we entered the final ten kilometers of racing and the leading riders were over one minute ahead of us, we had to react quickly. We decided to attack, but other teams sat on my wheel and didn’t want to let me go. In the end. I tried to go with the best but I just simply couldn’t. My opponents were too strong to beat them today.
Even though I’m disappointed with the result, I’m very proud of our team and the work my teammates did for me throughout the entire week. It was great to see them ride at the front of the pack and make sure I was safe and well positioned.
Gabriele Missaglia, Sports Director
We are leaving Portugal with a sense that we did a great job collectively as a team. Every day the riders were executing the strategy perfectly and they were all doing exactly what we asked them to do. Unfortunately, we didn’t have too much luck, since Amaro Antunes was involved in a crash on stage one, losing time in the General Classification.
Today we tried everything we could. The presence of Jonas Koch in the breakaway allowed us to have one more rider for a tough finale, to help Amaro, and that’s what Jonas did. He worked for our leader to close the gaps. Unfortunately, the stage didn’t unfold the way we wanted. When Zdenek Stybar and Soren Kragh Andersen attacked on the final lap, Amaro had to make a quick decision; to go with them taking some risk, or to wait for the final climb and hope that their move would be brought back in. Maybe we should have gone with them, but in situations like this you never know.
Then, we had to launch an attack earlier than we would have liked, with 11km to go, but we had no choice as the leading riders were too far up the road. Amaro gave everything in the finale, but his legs were just not strong enough for the win. On a better day he could do a better result, but this time, the others were too strong.
We can be happy with the team performance. Despite Amaro losing a minute and a half on stage one, he still managed to finish in the top ten. This group of riders is still learning to race with each other, as it’s still early in the season, but we can be very optimistic coming into the next races.
Volta ao Algarve
Stage 5: Faro > Malhão (173.5km)
Top 3: 1. Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 2. Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) 3. Wout Poels (Team Sky)
CCC Team top 3: 10. Amaro Antune 39. Jonas Koch 41. Jonas Koch
Top 3 in GC: Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) 2. Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) 3. Wout Poels (Team Sky)
CCC Team top 3 in GC: 8. Amaro Antune 32. Laurens Ten Dam 61. Jonas Koch