PORTIMAO, Portugal (AFP) – HTC-Columbia’s Tony Martin won the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on Sunday after winning the fifth and final stage, a 17.2km time-trial from Lagao to Portimao.
There was disappointment for Spain’s three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank), who was only cleared to compete on Tuesday after being absolved of a doping charge by the Spanish Cycling Federation.
The German national time trial champion and 2010 worlds bronze medalist completed the 17 kilometer course looping around the city of Portimao in a time of 21 minutes and 53 seconds, five seconds ahead of Holland’s Lieuwe Wiestra (Vacansoleil).
Overall Martin finished with a 32 second advantage over HTC-Highroad teammate Tejay Van Garderen, whose solid sixth place in the final time trial guaranteed the American second overall in the final podium of the Tour of the Algarve.
“It all went really well,” HTC-Highroad director Brian Holm said,” the course was pretty tough, a few tricky corners, but when Tony’s in the kind of form he’s got right now, to be honest, that didn’t matter much, they could have thrown anything at him and he’ll still have done well.”
“Tejay also did a great time, but we weren’t surprised, we could see from the training camp that both of them were in really good shape.”
“Still, we did all the reconnaissance work this morning, the whole team checked out the course, and Tony did it one more time alone just to be 100 percent sure. After that it was just a question of crossing our fingers that they didn’t puncture when they did the time trial itself.”
“We could see on the split times they gave over the radio that they were going fast right from the start, and they kept that up all the way through.”
Bidding to win the race for the third successive year, and just four seconds off overnight leader Stephen Cummings, Contador could only finish fourth overall after finishing 15th in the stage.
“I gave it everything I had but at this point it just wasn’t enough,” said Contador. “I need more training and and more race kilometers and I need to do more pacing before I can match the strongest riders today. Tony Martin did a perfect stage and he naturally deserved the win. I’m looking forward to coming back to my usual level but I also know that it takes more training.”
1. Tony Martin (GER) HTC-Highroad in 20:53
2. Lieuwe Westra (NED) Vacansoleil, at 0:05
3. Tiago Machado (POR) Radioshack, at 0:26
4. Jesse Sergent (NZL) Radioshack, at 0:27
5. Andreas Klöden (GER) Radioshack, at 0:30
Final Overall standings
1. Tony Martin (GER) HTC-Highroad in 18:48:45
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad, at 0:32
3. Lieuwe Westra (NED) Vacansoleil, at 0:39
4. Alberto Contador (ESP) Saxo Bank, at 0:41
5. Andreas Klöden (GER) Radioshack, at 0:46