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The Polish race leader takes a convincing 11-second win over Malori to extend his overall lead while world champion Martin has another disappointing performance and can only manage third

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

ADRIANO MALORI

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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TONY MARTIN

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VOLTA AO ALGARVE

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21.02.2014 @ 17:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) continued his dominance of the Volta ao Algarve when he took a convincing win in today's 13.6km time trial. 24 hours after taking a solo win in the first hilly stage of the race, the Pole stormed around the course in a time of 14.03 to put 11 seconds into Adriano Malori (Movistar) and extend his overall lead while world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) could only manage 3rd.

 

Michal Kwiatkowski has had a dream start to the 2014 season and after today's showing in the Volta ao Algarve time trial, it seems that his first big stage race win is just around the corner. Having won the first mountain stage in solo fashion yesterday, the Pole was the fastest on the 13.6km flat course in Portugal.

 

Kwiatkowski beat two of the time trialing greats into the minor positions as Adriano Malori and Tony Martin completed the podium. However, Malori was not even close to beating Kwiatkowski, having lost 11 seconds over the short distance.

 

For Martin, it was another disappointment after he had failed to win the Dubai Tour time trial and lost more than 10 minutes yesterday, falling completely out of GC contention. Being an early starter, he led the stage for a long time but in the end had to settle for 3rd, 13 seconds behind his young teammate.

 

Kwiatkowski's GC rivals all lost a significant chunk of time, with Alberto Contador performing well to take 4th at 20 seconds and Rui Costa taking 12th at 34 seconds. Contador now moves into 2nd on GC, 31 seconds off the overall lead, while Costa drops back to 3rd, 6 seconds further adrift.

 

They will get a chance to take time on Kwiatkowski in tomorrow's queen stage. A hilly route ends with two passages of the famous Alto do Malhao, with the finish line being located at the top. The ascent is a short one at just 2.6km but has an average gradient of 9.6%, meaning that the explosive climbers will come to the fore.

 

A flat course

The Volta ao Algarve continued with an unusually early time trial that was held on a completely flat 13.6km course from Vila do Bispo to Sagres. It was a race for the true specialists as it mainly consisted of a long straight road but the final few kilometres were rather technical, with the final kilometre even including a long cobbled section.

 

The first rider down the ramp was Valter Pereira (Banco BIC)  but the first rider to set a serious mark was none other than Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who covered the course in 14.47. His time held for a few minutes until he was beaten by 10 seconds by his teammate Julien Vermote.

 

Flens sets best time

The Belgian didn't enjoy his stay in the hot seat for long as the next rider was Rick Flens (Belkin) who was 5 seconds faster. Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) made it onto the provisional podium with a time of 14.43 while Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) also was close to the top.

 

Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) was the third rider to go below 14.40 when he took the provisional 3rd while sprinters Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) both had solid rides. However, all eyes were now on Giro stage winner Alex Dowsett who lived up to expectations by lowering the mark by 4 seconds.

 

Martin is fast

Florian Senechal (Cofidis) was the third Cofidis rider to go below 14.40 but Dowsett now had his focus on Martin who had started his ride. The German set the fastest split time and extended his advantage all the way to the finish, positing a time of 14.16.

 

Thomas De Gendt was another Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider to do well when he set the 4th best time but the next real challenger was expected to be Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura). As expected, the Czech was on a good ride but his time of 14.31 was only good enough for 3rd.

 

Malori beats Martin

Jerome Coppel and Rein Taaramae failed to post good times that would allow them to take back some of the lost time and so it was now time to turn the attention to Malori. The Italian was 2 seconds behind Martin at the intermediate check but when he crossed the line, he had beaten the world champion by 2 seconds.

 

The GC battle had now kicked off, with Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Alexandre Geniez (FDj) both setting good times while Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) finished far off the mark after having set a good split time. It was now time for the three best riders, Contador, Costa and Kwiatkowski to hit the course, with Malori waiting anxiously in the hot seat.

 

All eyes on Kwiatkowski

Contador had a good ride to slot into the provisional 3rd place while Costa came back from a slow start to finish in the provisional 11th place. At this point, however, all eyes were on Kwiatkowski who had been 3 seconds faster than Martin at the intermediate check.

 

When the race leader crossed the line, it became clear that he had stormed around the final part of the course and he crossed the line with a time of 14.03 to take his second win in a row.

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