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Having helped his Radioshack Nissan-Trek teammate Tiago Machado into second place overall on stage three of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal yesterday, Matthew Busche took some time out at the start of stage 4 today to reflect on his European season thus far.
“It’s my first time in Algarve and I don’t know what I really expected, but it’s been really hard,” said the US road race champ. “Its been nice to race in a short sleeve jersey and shorts some days. The weather has been tough in most parts of Europe, so it’s been nice to get the good weather here, but the first two stages were deceptively hard actually. Yesterday was definitely tough because of the parcours and also because Sky rode exceptionally strong, but overall the race is a really nice race.”
With just one mainly flat road stage to go today before the crucial final time trial tomorrow, Busche expects to spend the stage keeping Machado out of trouble with the aim to get his Portuguese teammate into the start house on Sunday in the best possible position.
“Today won’t be anything different than it’s been for the last two days,” said Busche. “Tiago is a protected rider and I would expect Sky are still going to try and control the race. All we can do is keep Tiago where he is and do some damage control until the time trial tomorrow and hope he can do his thing.”
Machado and compatriot Rui Costa of Movistar have proven to be the favorites with the roadside Portuguese fans and Busche reckons the former has a good chance of overtaking race leader Richie Porte in the final time trial. “He’s got as good a chance as anyone to win the race overall. It’s a race he’s motivated to do well in. He’s in shape. He’s strong. And he’s a good time trial rider but, that said, there are plenty of guys within striking distance and Porte is no slouch himself in the time trial. It’s anybody’s race between four or five guys and I hope we can come out on top.”
Although he doesn’t yet know what his next race will be, probably either Paris-Nice or the Tour of Catalunya, Busche has firmer long term personal goals.
“Long term, or through the spring, the aim will be to go back to California and help Chris Horner defend his title there and then hopefully go to the USPRO championships and defend my own jersey. The team has come together really well with the old guys gelling really well with the new guys since the merger. The team is super strong. We’ve got good motivation and a good atmosphere and it’s going to be an exciting season.”