Volta ao Algarve 2015 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

Tavira – Alto do Malhao 218km

algarve4

It’s the big day in the Algarve. After today’s exciting TT, Geraint Thomas leads Tony Martin by 30 seconds and Michal Kwiatkowski by 39 seconds. This stage is long and full of short, steep climbs. It’s going to be a long day for Team Sky as they have to be attentive throughout.

With Etixx having 2 riders in contention, expect them to attack and probably when you don’t expect it. They have to force Thomas into working, so they will try and eliminate his teammates. As the Pole is a very explosive finisher it makes sense to make Tony Martin go for the long attack. The TT expert will certainly shed some bodies if he attempts a move from 30km. If Team Sky expend too much energy, Kwiatkowski could take advantage on the final climb. With 10 bonus seconds for the winner, he could still win this race but it’s going to be hard.

The final climb is around 2km at 10%. This is a difficult climb but looking back over the years, we don’t usually get big gaps. Last year, the top 16 finished inside 29 seconds of the winner. In 2013, 12 riders were within the magical 29 seconds(if Kwiatkowski wins, he needs 29 seconds on Thomas for the GC).

One issue for Thomas, is the route is harder this year. They climb the cat 3 climb, 1km at 13%, just 8.5km before the final climb. This is a crucial moment for Thomas and his team. Certainly we will get an attack at this point, I expect it to be from Etixx but the other riders might join in. Astana are 4th and 5th on GC with Taaramae and LL Sanchez, Katusha are 6th and 7th. This is the point where all these guys might try it on.

Thomas does have a bad memory of losing an overall title. In 2013, he went into the Willunga Hill stage of the TDU with a 5 second advantage over Tom Slagter. That day, when Slagter attacked, Thomas had no answer. He eventually lost 28 seconds and the Ochre jersey. He’ll be determined to put things right.

Whatever happens, this is going to be a good day!

Prediction Time

The cat 3 climb is going to be crucial. Etixx will attack, with others. Will it be Tony Martin or Michal Kwiatkowski? At this stage, no one knows! Despite being 3rd, the Pole is their best chance for the overall, as Tony Martin won’t win the stage. It’s going to be very hard for Kwiatkowski to take the overall title but I would have him as the favourite for the stage. He should take the win, we shall see if he wins the GC. If not feeling 100%, is teammate, Zdenek Stybar, might just surprise a few.

David Hunter

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