Although Team Sky did all of the work to pare down the peloton in stage 2 of Volta ao Algarve, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the line first Thursday and took the overall lead in Portugal.
Wout Poels (Sky) was second atop the Alto de Foia summit finish. Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Enric Mas rounded out the podium in third.
“I feel like I am dreaming,” said Pogacar. “[It’s my] first victory in the WorldTour, so this is the best day on the bike. I’m really happy.”
As the 7.8km uphill finish ground on to the end of the 187.4km stage, Team Sky put its cards on the table, stringing out the peloton with a blistering tempo. First, it was Dylan van Baarle to lead the bunch. Then, Tao Geoghegan Hart took control with a few kilometers to go.
CCC’s Amaro Atunes wasn’t about to wait until the final kick to the line. He attacked with about a kilometer to go.
The remaining five riders chased behind, while the Portugese rider turned over a massive gear, trying to stay up the road.
It was not meant to be, however, and the select group of chasers caught him after Poels made an acceleration.
The Slovenian Pogacar followed the Dutchman’s wheel and swept past on the left, within sight of the finish line at 887 meters above sea level. He won the day by a few bike lengths.
The ambitious Atunes came home fifth after his late-stage heroics.
Pogacar will carry the leader’s jersey into stage 3’s 20.3km individual time trial in Lagos. He won’t have a big lead, though. Poels is second overall by just one second, and Mas is third overall, three seconds behind.
“Now that I have the yellow jersey, I will do everything to keep the jersey until the end,” Pogacar said. “Tomorrow’s the time trial. I will try to put everything on the road, and we’ll see how it goes.”
The 20-year-old has already shown potential as a GC rider, having won the 2018 Tour de l’Avenir under-23 race in France.