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Robert Förster retains GC lead
By Andrew Hood
Tomas Vaitkus delivered a dose of revenge for his beleaguered Astana team by taking the team’s first win of the 2008 season in the 189.5km second stage at the Volta ao Algarve, a day after his teammate Levi Leipheimer took the lead at the Tour of California.
Overnight leader Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) came through second in the mass gallop to retain his place atop the GC, with Vaitkus slotting in at second at just one second back.
“The team worked so hard for me. I couldn’t believe that they had so much confidence in me. I really could cry now,” Vaitkus said. “This is extra special after all we’ve been through the past few weeks.”
Astana has been dealt one blow after another as organizers of both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France told the team it won’t be allowed to race in their marquee races.
The sprinter teams collaborated to reel in a four-man breakaway that had built up an 11-minute lead in the rolling stage from Lagao to Lagos along Portugal’s spectacular Algarve coast.
“Yesterday, Björn worked hard for the team and me, so we returned the favor today and prepared the sprint for him,” Zabel said. “The stage was flatter than we had expected. But we reacted the right way and did everything we could to make sure there would be a mass sprint.”
The Algarve tour continues Friday with the 207.7km third stage from Vila Real San Antonio to Loule.