Team Sky (Portugal) – Michael Kwiatkowski timed a late attack to perfection to win stage five of Volta ao Algarve and seal the overall victory, with Geraint Thomas second on the podium.
Kwiatkowski emerged from a small elite group on the final climb to attack solo leader Zdenek Stybar (Quck-Step Floors) with two kilometres to go and pass him to secure a dramatic win.
He was pursued by Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), but they were unable to catch the Polish rider who won from Guerreiro by four seconds.
Thomas finished in a chase group that was 1’47” behind Kwiatkowski, finishing second overall with ‘Kwiato’ earning the points jersey and Team Sky finishing as best overall team.
Kwiatkowski and Thomas finished first and second in Portugal.
Earlier, a large group of 31 containing several GC threats was able to break free of the peloton early on the stage, with Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas Team Sky’s representatives tasked with bringing them to heel.
Kwiatkowski revealed that the team had to readjust their tactics during the race, but with support from Golas he was able to secure the stage win from the lead group.
He said: “We had our eyes open at the start and we felt that was the best way to defend yellow and to defend second place and even go for the stage win.
“I’m very thankful for the team and especially to G for that opportunity. Nobody expected the race was going to go that way, it was not a typical way to defend a yellow jersey.
“Massive thanks to Michal Golas - he was amazing today, protecting me in the breakaway and he made this win possible."
"The only way I was going to be able to look G in the eyes after the race was going to be if I won the stage and did everything perfectly.", said Michal Kwiatkowski.
Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgohe) and Stybar were able to get away with 30km to go, but the large group splintered, and Golas and Kwiatkowski worked hard to keep the gap from growing too far, paving the way for the Team Sky rider to complete the stage-winning attack.
Kwiatkowski added: “It was very difficult situation out there [in the break], there were so many guys close in the GC and they were putting us under pressure, trying to split the group.
“I really felt under pressure as I thought that the chance of taking the lead from G was a strange situation, but I thought that I have to do the perfect race.
"The only way I was going to be able to look G in the eyes after the race was going to be if I won the stage and did everything perfectly."
Despite the excellent team performance, winning three stages, Kwiatkowski revealed that he was a little surprised by the results.
He added: “I think it’s a little bit unexpected that I’m in such good shape as I didn’t expect that I could climb so well here and I didn’t spend time here beforehand to get used to the country.
“I won overall, I won this amazing stage on the Malhao, G finished second and I won the points jersey.
“Volta ao Algarve was always one of my favourite races to prepare yourself for the season and that’s how it was - good weather, good, hard racing and I think everyone enjoyed how Team Sky rode.
“It was a crazy day, we have to be really happy with the team performance, the team won three stages in the end!”