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Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) raced across the line ahead of Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) to take the win on stage 3 of the 2022 Volta ao Algarve.
After a slightly chaotic final kilometer, including navigating traffic calming features embedded in the road in the final kilometer, Coquard opened the sprint with just less than 200m to go.
This is the Dutch sprinter’s fourth win of the still-young 2022 season, including a win on the opening stage of the Volta.
Coming off the wheels of his teammates — including second-placed overall Remco Evenepoel who again did another massive turn on the front before swinging off — Jakobsen launched an all-or-nothing sprint that overhauled the French rider, and kept Merlier at a distance.
American Colin Joyce (Human Powered Health) finished in the thick of the bunch sprint, rolling through the line in ninth position.
This result was a welcome salve for the American squad, which pulled out of the Ruta del Sol, in Spain, following stage 3 after several members of the organization had tested positive for COVID-19.
After a break of seven went away early in the stage and got as much as six minutes, the peloton, with power in greater numbers, brought back the gap in large chunks.
At the category 4 climb inside of 28km to go, the lead had dwindled to just more than two minutes. This gap then dropped to just 40 seconds before stretching out to 90 seconds for a very short interval, before completely evaporating from the work of Alpecin-Fenix, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, and Ineos Grenadiers putting riders on the front.
With 25km to go, the remains of the break exploded when the catch looked imminent.
Of the initial seven escapees, three were allowed to dangle off the front by the seven Alpecin-Fenix riders controlling the pace.
Before the final run-in, the race came back together at a rotary at 10km to go.
The following 5km went quickly as sprinters’ teams battled for control while general classification riders wanted to be at the front so as not to lose time to rivals.
Into the final 5km the pace was high, and the American squad Human Powered Health took a turn on the front. They were no match for Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who did heroic work for Tom Pidcock and Dani Martínez.
Once inside of the 3km “safety zone” the GC teams moved to the sides of the road, and Alpecin-Fenix, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, and Cofidis tried to establish advantageous numbers at the front, but no team controlled the race into the flamme rouge.
In the final kick to the line, it looked as if Merlier had a perfect lead-out, but at 200m to go, Coquard went up the center of the road, while Fabio Jakobsen started his attack against the right barrier.
Merlier reacted when Jakobsen accelerated, but could not pull back distance on the powerful Dutch rider.
The 209+ kilometer stage came down to which rider could hold the fastest final 200m, and Jakobsen was strongest and fastest.
2022 Volta ao Algarve Stage 3 Results
- Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), 4:54:51
- Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), at s.t.
- Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), at s.t.
- Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), at s.t.
- Hugo Hofstetter (Arkéa-Samsic), at s.t.
- Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), at s.t.
- Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe), at s.t.
- Michele Gazzoli (Astana Qazaqstan), at s.t.
- Colin Joyce (Human Powered Health), at s.t.
- Leangel Linarez (Tavfer-Mortágua-Ovos Matinados), at s.t.
2022 Volta ao Algarve General Classification
- David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), 14:42:11
- Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), at :01
- Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at :01