It was a good debut for Team Colombia at Volta ao Algarve, short Portuguese stage race starting today, February 14th, and finishing on Sunday, February 17th. With all 8 riders making their season debut, the team guided by Sports Directors Valerio Tebaldi and Oliverio Rincon managed to come up with a good performance in the 198 km first stage from Albugeira to Faro. Blanco’s German Paul Martens sprinted to his first win of the season, edging Tiago Machado (Radioshack) and fellow teammate Theo Bos in a mass dash affected by a crash with 700 metres to go.
The best Team Colombia rider to the line was youngster Edwin Avila, who managed to finish in 25th position his very first European race. The pistard from Cali was constantly patrolled by teammate Juan Pablo Valencia, while Jeffry Romero couldn’t contest the sprint after a crash with 5 km to go – luckily with no major consequences.
Team Colombia’s Marco Corti was a big protagonist on today’s lumpy route, working his way into the day’s breakaway after 16 km. Together with Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare) and Sergio Paulinho (Saxo Bank), the Italian remained clear for over 180 km: the escapees were reeled in with 10 km to go, after their advantage had peaked at 3.30.
A good team display, as a smiling Valerio Tebaldi stated: “At the beginning of a season, it is very important to be concrete, and progress day by day, but I think today we had a good start. Marco was smart to get himself into the break, giving the team a chance to sit up and protect the sprinters as well as climbers Atapuma and Rodriguez, whose mind is fixed on Saturday’s stage.”
“Today’s stage was tougher that it might seem, so I think very positively also of Avila’s performance, who threw himself into the sprint after 200 km in his first European race. Another demanding stage is in store for tomorrow, and we are going to tackle it with the same aggressive approach.”
The 2nd stage will take the riders for 195 km around Lagoa: the Foia climb (2nd category) is quite demanding, but way too far from the finish, while the final 30 km present several undulations that could prove too much for some pure sprinters.
Photo: Marco Corti showed courage on his debut with the Team