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by Mark Zalewski
February 17, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Dan Martin wins Volta ao Algarve stage, takes over lead; Pinot wins Ruta del Sol queen stage, Contador assumes lead; Anderson wins Tour of Oman, stage 3; Not above bottle duty: Amalie Dideriksen’s year ahead in the rainbow stripes; Dunbar poised to seize chances heading into year two with Axeon Hagens Berman team; Jens Keukeleire hit by car while training in Spain; Mitchelton-Scott signs young Australian talents; Two climbs planned for Tokyo 2020 road race circuit; Reports: Meeusen to join van der Poel on Beobank-Corendon; Klaas Vantornout remains with Marlux-Napoleon Games; Too early for Pidcock at WorldTour level; Paolini signs with pro mountain bike team; Erkki Punttila – Not Far From Home.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) won the queen stage of the Ruta del Sol, a stage that lived up to its billing with a spectacular GC battle in the final 5km that saw many race favourites crack and recover at varying intervals. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) just missed out on the stage win but takes over the race lead.
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soundal) rode a brave race, keeping a solo attack going even after crashing in a roundabout. But the GC battle that loomed on the final climb was too much for teams to allow him to stay off the front and he was eventually caught inside of 6km to go.
The various team leaders moved to the front at 5km to go as the road angled up, with everyone looking around for the impending attack, but all with one eye fixed on race leader Valverde who had showed his strength on stage one. Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) was the first to give it a go but it was too much, too soon, and he relented. Team Sky had the numbers again, as they did on the first stage, and eventually played a card with Mikel Landa attacking.
With 3km to go Trek-Segafredo made their move with Fabio Felline upping the pace to lead his captain Alberto Contador to and off the front. The pair caught up to Landa and Contador went on alone while behind them Valverde cracked. Sky’s Wout Poels jumped past Valverde in pursuit of Contador. Bahrain Merida’s leader Ion Izagirre was cracking with Valverde with the pair riding together trying to limit their losses.
Team Sky mounted a chase with Landa recovering and joined by Diego Rosa, who finished fifth on the first stage. That brought them to within 15 seconds of Contador as more leaders recovered, including Pinot and Valverde. Pinot attacked the group and bridged to Contador, passing him just as he was inside the final crowd barriers.