Dan Martin takes second stage of Volta ao Algarve
Victory sees Irish rider take over as race leader from teammate Fernando Gaviria
Ireland’s Daniel Martin of the team Quick-Step Floors cuts the finish line to win the second stage of the Algarve Tour cycling race, over 189.3km between Lagoa and Alto da Foia, Monchique, Portugal. Photograph: EPA
Dan Martin showed superb form in Portugal on Thursday, taking a victory on what is only his second stage race of 2017. The Irish QuickStep Floors rider won stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, beating the Czech rider Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) atop the Alto da Foia climb.
The two were strongest on the final ascent and duelled it out for the win, with Martin quickest in the push to the line. He was just ahead of Roglic, with former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) third, 21 seconds back.
Martin’s victory saw him take over as race leader from his team-mate Fernando Gaviria, who had won Wednesday’s flatter opening stage.
Martin is now four seconds clear of Roglic and 26 ahead of Kwiatkowski. The race continues on Friday with an 18 kilometre based around Sagres. His two rivals are strong time trialists and so it remains to be seen if he can hold on; either way, he is clearly in very strong condition.
He finished sixth overall earlier this month in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and has had a fine beginning to his second season with the QuickStep team.
Martin finished ninth in last year’s Tour de France and can continue to make gains this season. The Volta ao Algarve continues until Sunday.
Elsewhere, Matt Brammeier put the Irish Aqua Blue Sport team back into the spotlight on stage three of the Tour of Oman, being part of the day’s big breakaway move. He and five others built a lead of over four minutes, but hard chasing saw them ultimately reeled in 15 kilometres from the line.
At home, Ronan McLaughlin has said he is fired up by the An Post Rás route unveiled earlier this week. The race will spent five days in Donegal, McLaughlin’s home county. He went within 100 metres of winning a stage into Bundoran in 2012 and has his sights set on trying to scoop a victory this time around.
“I couldn’t have asked for more. To have half the stages in Donegal is plenty of motivation for me,” he told the Irish Times this week. “I had a fair idea it was coming up here and that kept me motivated all winter.”
McLaughlin noted that the stage to Buncrana passes his grandmother’s house inside the final kilometre, but isn’t sure that stage will best suit his characteristics.
“The next day into Dungloe on paper looks easier. It looks like there are only two third category climbs, but there are very, very difficult roads up and down, twisting and turning. It is always exposed to the elements there along the coast.
“It sounds like to me the kind of the day that I would really enjoy, getting stuck in and racing rather than making selections.”