Barta broke clear almost immediately after the flag dropped with five other riders. The peloton, however, was not too eager to let them gain too much ground and the teams with General Classification contenders were keeping the gap at under the three-minute mark.
On the approach to the penultimate climb the pace in the pack picked up drastically and Barta’s group was caught with over 50 kilometers to go.
CCC Team tried to surprise the rest of the field and launched another move soon after. First, Riccardo Zoidl pulled away and a moment later Antunes bridged across to his teammate.
The duo opened a two-minute lead and fought hard to get to the bottom of the final ascent with an advantage over the chasers. Unfortunately, they were both caught with 15 kilometers remaining. Despite being reeled back in, Antunes was still strong enough to keep up with the main favorites on the uphill.
The final climb, which was seven kilometers long and featured a six percent gradient, broke the bunch into pieces. Antunes’ earlier attempt cost him some energy, but he didn’t show it in the finale.When the main group was down to just ten riders, he was still sitting comfortably in fifth to sixth place. While entering the final kilometer he attacked again, but his opponents timed their uphill sprint perfectly and caught him with just 200 to 300 meters to go.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) won the stage and took over the leader’s jersey, while Antunes came in fifth, seven seconds back. He now sits eighth overall (1’42″ behind).
Quotes from the finish:
“Today our guys did everything according to the plan which we had drawn up before the stage. With Barta, we had a man in the front so we could put pressure on the other teams to chase the break down. We also decided to try to attack on the penultimate climb and again, we did exactly that, when Zoidl and Antunes went away.
Everything was going great and we were in a good position to take the win. Maybe we could have waited a little longer with the attack inside the final kilometer. I’m very proud with what the team did today and how we executed the strategy. Had Amaro not crashed on the opening stage, we would have been in much better position in the overall, but we move up to eighth in the General Classification, which is also good.”
“Today I was really motivated and wanted to get a good result in front of my home crowd. I felt very good throughout the entire day and the team was very strong as well. We had a strategy set up to try to fight for the stage. We did a great job and left everything on the road, but unfortunately this time the opponents were superior.”
“The plan was to go in the break and hope that later I could be ahead to help the guys. The break went away quite easily and we were given a leash of about two minutes. However, that seemed to be about the limit that the bunch would allow us. Everyone worked well together in the break, but without much freedom from the peloton, it did not feel like a super motivated group. I felt good and I am feeling better each day getting back into racing.”
Volta ao Algarve
Stage two: Almodôvar > Fóia (187.4km)
Top 3: 1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), 2. Wout Poels (Team Sky), 3. Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
CCC Team top 3: 5. Amaro Antunes, 26. Laurens Ten Dam, 58. Jonas Koch