Team Sky (Portugal) – Michal Kwiatkowski climbed to victory on stage two of the Volta ao Algarve with Geraint Thomas finishing third to move into the overall lead.
Kwiatkowski was able to escape from a small lead group in the final metres of the Alto de Foia climb to seal his first win of the season after good work from Vasil Kiryienka with 9km to go that had stretched the race forcing Team Sky’s rivals to work hard to catch him in the early part of the last climb.
Once Kiryienka was caught with 2km remaining, Kenny Elissonde then paced the lead group allowing Kwiatkowski and Thomas well-placed to sprint for the uphill finish, a battle won by the Polish rider.
Kwiatkowski revealed that he was a little surprised by his form and credited his teammates for their fantastic efforts in placing him and Thomas in an excellent position.
"I heard on the radio that Wout had won at Ruta del Sol… That gave us a little bit of extra motivation.", said Michal Kwiatkowski.
He said: “It’s one of my favourite races so I’m really happy today. The 14km climb was difficult - that’s pretty much the first solid summit finish for me [this season] and I’m really happy that we cooperated so well as a team. Geraint, Kenny, Kiry, Owain, Michal, Lukasz, they were all there and we played it perfectly.
“I have to say it was a little bit unexpected. A week ago I was racing in Valencia with Wout Poels and we had solid form, but we didn’t step up with the results. Then today I heard on the radio that Wout had won at Ruta del Sol - that was good news and gave us a little bit of extra motivation. That’s why we went so hard today.
“The climb was long but everyone knew it wasn’t so steep. The gradient was around 5% which is difficult to drop riders on and make a big gap. But in the end we’re happy. It’s a win, it’s my first win, and I’m happy with my condition. We will ride strong tomorrow in the time trial and try to do our best.
Thomas also revealed that his early season form was pleasant surprise, but was well aware that Friday’s time trial would prove to be a pivotal stage.
“We’ve got a strong team here and we tried to race a bit differently, the Welshman said.
“Everyone had their chance. Kenny, Kiry, myself and Kwiato, we all just got stuck in and did what we could do. It’s great that Kwiato won the stage and we’re right up there. It’s a good day.
“When you’re leading the race there’s always an added incentive and you feel a little stronger. I’m looking forward to tomorrow but there’s a lot of strong guys here. It will be a solid test to see where I’m at.”
He concluded: “Tomorrow is a big day for the GC. We’ll see how we go. With myself and Kwiato, hopefully we’ll still be right up there. It’s a super strong field this year so who knows. It’s just nice to be wearing the jersey."