Volta ao Algarve: Wout van Aert wins stage 3 uphill sprint

Belgian takes first win of 2024 ahead of Oliveira and Mayrhofer in chaotic finale

Clock17:01, Friday 16th February 2024
Wout van Aert wins stage 3 of the Volta ao Algarve

© Dario Belingheri / Velo Collection via Getty Images

Wout van Aert wins stage 3 of the Volta ao Algarve

Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) won stage 3 of the Volta ao Algarve in a slightly uphill drag to the finish line in Tavira after surfing the wheels in a hectic finale.

Without a lead-out for most of the final few kilometres, Van Aert sprinted on his own, and came from fifth wheel in the finale to take the victory.

Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) took second just millimetres ahead of Marius Mayrhofer (Tudor Pro Cycling) in third, whilst stage 1 winner Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty) settled for fourth.

The largely uneventful, 192km stage from Vila Real de Santo António to Tavira saw a seven-man breakaway of all Continental team riders up the road for most of the day, with Carlos Salgueiro (APHotels & Resorts / Tavira / SC Farens) the last to be caught, 14km before the finish.

“It’s always important to take a win in the beginning of the season,” Van Aert said at the finish. “It’s good for the confidence. Especially in a sprint, it’s not easy, so I’m happy.

“It was a bit chaotic to come to the front, because it was a really wide road leading towards the finish straight, so I had to gamble a little bit and come from the back. But then I found a good position in the last corner, and with the uphill and the headwind I think it was good to come from the back.”

Due to a crash within the final 3km, all the riders were given the same time, meaning Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) continues to lead the race, whilst bonus seconds mean Van Aert moved into seventh overall ahead of stage 4's time trial.

Crash punctuates calm sprint day in the Algarve

On the flat start to the stage, it took just over 10km for the day’s breakaway to get away, composed of seven riders from Portuguese Continental teams. With a bunch sprint on the cards and nobody threatening in the break, the leaders were quickly given a gap of just under four minutes, and the first hour of racing passed with little action.

The first climb didn’t come until over 100km into the stage, so it was a very sedate first half of the day, with teams like Bora-Hansgrohe and Visma-Lease a Bike keeping the break in check, but not real drive to chase them down yet. Over the climb, Gerardo Tivani (Aviludo-Louletano-Loulé Concelho) took maximum KoM points from the break.

With 80km to go, a touch of wheels on a short descent saw a number of riders go down in a crash, though most were back up and riding. It was EF Education-EasyPost’s Rui Costa who came off worse, unable to remount his bike and abandoning with what looked like a collarbone break.

The crash coincided with an injection of pace in the peloton, with race leaders Bora-Hansgrohe and Intermarché-Wanty — winners of the first sprint stage — leading the chase and starting to eat into the break’s lead, which fell under two minutes with 60km to go.

On the second and final categorised climb, the Faz Fato, Tivani once again picked up the maximum points, pushing on with two others as the breakaway split apart on the descent, with just 40km of flat waiting before the line. After digging in to hang on as long as possible, the last survivors of the breakaway were finally caught with 14km to go as things started to wind up for the bunch sprint.

In the run-in to Tavira, it was the likes of dsm-firmenich PostNL, Intermarché-Wanty and Lidl-Trek who were at the front of a fairly chaotic bunch, with Wout van Aert a surprising presence, floating around the action after saying he wasn’t targeting the sprints in Portugal.

Getting closer to the line, the bunch thinned out dramatically as the GC favourites tried to stay out of trouble and the pace set on the front proved too much for many riders. Turning into the uphill finishing straight, fewer than 20 riders remained and only Tudor and Intermarché were able to produce any kind of lead-out, but in the end it didn’t make a diffference as Van Aert’s finishing speed was just too much, winning by a wheel ahead of Oliveira and Mayrhofer.

For a day touted as a sprint day, the hectic finale meant the gaps on the finish line were large, with Remco Evenepoel finishing a minute down on Van Aert and many other GC riders further back still.

Stage 4 brings the 22km time trial, for which Van Aert will be among the favourites, and a possibly GC contender after his strong finish on stage 2 to Alto da Fóia. He currently sits seventh overall.

“I think I’m in a good position on the GC," Van Aert said. "My plan was to do a good time trial and hopefully we still have a few guys in the GC after tomorrow to make it a good final stage.”

For more of the latest updates, check the racing news page.

Race Results

1

be flag

VAN AERT Wout

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

4H 50' 57"

2

pt flag

OLIVEIRA Rui

UAE Team Emirates

"

3

de flag

MAYRHOFER Marius

Tudor Pro Cycling Team

"

4

be flag

THIJSSEN Gerben

Intermarché-Wanty

"

5

ch flag

BISSEGGER Stefan

EF Education-EasyPost

"

6

no flag

TILLER Rasmus

Uno-X Mobility

"

7

be flag

STUYVEN Jasper

Lidl-Trek

"

8

dk flag

CORT Magnus

Uno-X Mobility

"

9

kz flag

FEDOROV Yevgeniy

Astana Qazaqstan Team

"

10

co flag

MESA Santiago

Efapel Cycling

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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