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Fabio Jakobsen sprints to opening stage win at Volta ao Algarve

Remco Evenepoel, Geraint Thomas, and David Gaudu escape unscathed as several big crashes mark final kilometers of opening day.

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Fabio Jakobsen turned an almost pitch-perfect leadout from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl into victory on the opening stage of the 2022 Volta ao Algarve.

The Dutch rider hung on the wheels of his teammates as pre-race GC favorite Remco Evenepoel put in a punishing turn on the front with two kilometers to go. The big push from the Belgian had his team on the limit but it would rip apart a peloton that had been greatly diminished by several crashes.

“It’s perfect, I think we controlled the race all day and I have to thank my teammates. A sprinter cannot win without them. This is their victory and I’m just happy to take the victory in Lagos. I know this finish quite well because we do a training camp here. I won it twice before,” said Jakobsen.

“In the last climb, we had quite a good position and also a big thanks to Remco because he’s here for the GC but he does his job perfectly in the leadout. It’s an amazing day.”

Evenepoel finished his effort on the front inside the final kilometer but kept up with Jakobsen to ensure he didn’t lose any time in the overall classification. Bert Van Lerberghe was the last man ahead of Jakobsen, and he peeled off with just fewer than 200 meters to go leaving the Dutchman with a clear run to the line.

Despite the groups coming together in the final meters, there was nothing anyone could do to catch and pass the charging Jakobsen. Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) took second but was relegated place after squeezing Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) against the barriers. In the end, it was Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) who took the runner-up spot with Kristoff in third.

The win is Jakobsen’s third in the Portuguese city of Lagos.

The opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve took the peloton 199.1km from Portimão to Lagos with a sprint expected to decide the day.

A group of four riders escaped up the road in the opening 10 kilometers after several breakaway attempts. The quartet were Asier Etxeberria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Fábio Oliveira (ABTF-Feirense), Hugo Nunes (Radio Popular-Paredes-Boavista), and João Matias (Tavfer-Mortágua-Ovos Matinados).

With concerns about crosswinds toward the finish, the escapees were not allowed too much space to relax. After only gaining just over two minutes on the peloton behind, the four leaders were within touching distance of the main group inside the final 40 kilometers.

A big crash in the middle of the bunch didn’t appear to slow it down with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl setting a furious pace on the front. It would be gruppo compatto with 35km to go as a sense of nervousness seemed to set into the peloton.

Another big crash with just more than 11km to the finish line as the bunch crossed over a bridge caused a rift in the pack.

A group of about 30 riders emerged at the front as the pace stepped up another gear. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl had a strong representation in it, as did Alpecin-Fenix, and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. Other teams like Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ seemed far more diminished in the split.

Pre-race GC contenders Evenepoel, David Gaudu, Tobias Foss, Geraint Thomas, and Tom Pidcock all got through the spills unscathed.

Despite having some GC intentions, Evenepoel took a turn on the front to set up the leadout for Jacobsen with two kilometers to go, putting in a punishing pace that caused yet another split in the bunch.

An attack from Trek-Segafredo also helped the “Wolfpack” rip apart the race. While the group eventually came together again just before the line, Jakobsen had the advantage in the finishing stretch and charged away as he sprinted to the line.

Kristoff was pushed against the barriers as he tried to come up the inside of Meeus and had to sit up. The incident resulted in the Belgian being relegated to the back of the group. Coquard kept out of trouble up the center of the road and was ultimately awarded second place.

Volta ao Algarve stage 1 result

  1. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 04:56:29
  2. Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe), at s.t.
  3. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), at s.t
  4. Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), at s.t.
  5. Michaele Gazzoli (Astana-Qazaqstan), at s.t
  6. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.
  7. Bert Van Lerberghe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at s.t.
  8. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at s.t.
  9. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), at s.t.
  10. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.