Algarve, strong top-10 finish for debutant Avila

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Edwin Avila’s European career at Team Colombia has started in a very promising way: today, February 15th, 2011 Points Race World Champion took his first top-10 placement in Europe in what was just his second attempt in the Old Continent, in Volta ao Algarve stage 2 (Lagoa-Lagoa, 195 km). To land the spoil was once again a Team Blanco’s rider: Theo Bos topped today’s sprint ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack) and Bruno Sancho (Carmin). The Dutchman is now the new leader of the race.

Team Colombia’s Edwin Avila and Jeffry Romero came into the stage finale in the wake of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma), widely considered as the day’s top favorite. The Manxman suffered a technical issue in the final 200 metres, and the Colombians were forced to widen their trajectory to the line, but Avila still managed to come back strongly and take a top 10 finish, while Romero worked his way to 15th after giving a strong contribution to his teammate’s result.

Team Colombia was a major protagonist once again in the second day of the Portuguese stage race, whose route was more severe than the previous day, characterized by 2nd category Foia climb in its first half. After Marco Corti’s strong effort, it was Dalivier Ospina’s time to show off in the day’s 10-man break, that formed after 25 km rode at a frantic pace. After giving up over 8 minutes to the escapees, Omega Pharma helped the group back within striking distance in the final 50 km, and the late surrenders were reeled in at 4 km to go.

Once again, Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi had good reasons to praise his team’s effort, while he was impressed by Edwin Avila’s early approach to European cycling: “Edwin is a talented guy, and he is already showing his sharpness and courage in throwing himself in the mix. Today he was standing on Cavendish’s wheel, and the Brit’s technical problem clearly affected his sprint: who knows where he could have finished. I also want to praise Jeffry Romero, who was a great team player today, showing significant progress compared to last year, and Dalivier Ospina, who remained upfront for over 140 km, giving his teammates the chance to sit up in the bunch.

Tomorrow it’s climbers’ time with the third stage, 193 km from Portimao to Alto de Malhao uphill finish. The athletes will take in the final climb twice – the first one with 70 km to go – in a very important stage that will shape the GC ahead of Sunday’s decisive time trial. It will be a good chance for Darwin Atapuma and Michael Rodriguez to test their condition: “Our Team’s early season performances are encouraging us, we are confident in our good work in winter time and in the Team’s progress as a whole. We are hoping for further good indications tomorrow,” Tebaldi stated.

Team Colombia will also make its Italian debut tomorrow, at Trofeo Laigueglia. On the traditional 196,5 km route, the Team led by Oscar Pellicioli will look to follow up strongly after Tour Mediterraneen’s solid displays.

Photo: Edwin Avila is settling well into European racing

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