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Volta ao Algarve stage 3: Cees Bol blasts to sprint win

Cees Bol won the sprint while overnight leader Remco Evenepoel finished safely in the bunch to carry the lead going into Saturday's decisive climbing finish.

Cees Bol (Sunweb) sprinted his way to victory in Friday’s third stage at the Volta ao Algarve.

Bol, who won a stage at last year’s Amgen Tour of California, relegated Sacha Modolo (Alpecin-Fenix) to second place, with stage 1 winner Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) crossing the line in third place. Overnight leader Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) finished safely in the bunch to retain his overall lead.

With two GC days on tap, the sprinter teams didn’t want to let the chance slip away for a mass gallop. Three riders braved the odds, but were reeled in with about 19km to go to set up the sprint.

“It’s a good way to start the season,” Bol said. “We made some mistakes on the opening stage but today we really nailed it and I’m happy I could finish it off. We’re focusing more on the sprints this year and the guys were really strong today. I followed my lead out, Casper, and when I saw the sign at 200m I just went full gas, and I managed to be first at the line. It’s a sign that I did a good winter and it’s really nice that it paid off today.”

Remco Evenepoel (center) maintained his lead after Cees Bol (left) took the stage win. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The fight for the overall returns centerstage Saturday for the steep Cat. 2 summit finale at Malhao. The 167km stage starts on the Algarve coast at Albufeira and traces into the undulating Monchique mountains for a series of ever steeper hills before the final second-category run to the finish line.

With a 20km individual time trial looming Sunday, the climbers will be under pressure to try to gap overnight leader Evenepoel, who boasts the best time trialing skills among the leading favorites so far. Evenepoel, runner-up in the 2019 world time trial championships, could take 15 to 20 seconds out of riders like Dan Martin or Tim Wellens. The pressure will be on Evenepoel’s rivals to try to gap him if they stand any chance of dislodging him from the final podium Sunday.

Despite making his season debut at Algarve, Mathieu van der Poel has so far kept a low profile. He was gapped Thursday, and on Friday, helped to set up teammate Modolo for the sprint. With the spring classics the top goal for van der Poel’s road season, it’s not a surprise that he’s easing into his first road race since last fall after coming off his successful cyclocross season.

“I tried to get into the break [Thursday] but the big teams didn’t let me,” Van der Poel told Cycling ProNet. “I managed to hold on longer than I expected to the first group of real climbers [Thursday], so I was quite satisfied with the feeling already. I am feeling quite OK, maybe if [Friday] is a good day, I can try something, but we will see.”

Stage 3 results, Faro to Tavira, 201.9km

1. Cees Bool (Sunweb) 5 hours, 51 seconds (40.27kph)
2. Sacha Modolo (Alpecin-Fenix)
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)
4. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Emirates)
5. Daniel Hoelgaard (Uno-X) — all same time

Overall standings after three stages

1. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 14:43:06
2. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
3. Rui Costa (UAE-Emirates) at 0:02
4. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up) s.t.
5. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) s.t.