Kasper Asgreen continued his claim to being one of 2021’s standout riders with victory on stage four of the Volta ao Algarve.
The Danish rider won the race’s only time trial by three seconds from Portugal rider Rafael Reis, with Frenchman Benjamin Thomas in third.
It is the third victory of the season for Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Asgreen and comes a month after he triumphed at the Tour of Flanders.
Overnight race leader Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) was expected to be one of the main challengers for the stage victory and appeared to be on target for a second win of the week, but the Briton fell hard midway through his effort.
Nevertheless, Hayter kept hold of the leader’s jersey and will hope to do so again in Sunday’s final stage.
How it happened
Covering just over 20km, and starting and finishing in Lagoa, the route was a tester’s undulating circuit with four small ascents and descents.
Benjamin Thomas, one of the favourites for the win, started early and posted the fastest time of 24-01, a huge 67 seconds faster than the previous hot seat incumbent and his Groupama-FDJ team-mate Clément Davy.
Ivo Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) came within 28 seconds of Thomas’ time shortly after, but it wasn’t until Reis set off that anyone came close to bettering Thomas.
Reis, riding for the Continental team Efapel, finished six seconds ahead of Thomas and watched on as an unfancied leader of the time trial.
More of the pre-race favourites soon began, including Asgreen, and despite posting a third-best time at the second checkpoint, the Dane clawed back in the final kilometres to finish three seconds better than Reis’ 23-55.
Asgreen didn’t have to wait long to see if he would win his first test against the clock since the 2020 Danish nationals, with Hayter the only remaining challenge in his way.
The Briton, in the leader’s yellow jersey, was second fastest at the first time check but crashed hard shortly afterwards on a bend.
Despite hitting the ground hard and grazes visible on his body, Hayter impressively remounted shortly after and maintained the high pace he set before his fall.
He managed to finish in ninth place, 62 seconds short of Asgreen’s time, but the Londoner had done enough to hold onto the race’s lead with just one stage to go.
For Asgreen, it was his first victory since triumphing at Flanders a month ago.
- Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep, in 23-52
- Rafeal Reis (Por) Efapel, at 3 secs
- Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 9 secs
- Thibault Guernalec (Fra) Arkea-Samsic, at 19 secs
- Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 28 secs
- Ivo Oliveria (Por) UAE-Team Emirates, at 37 secs
- Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE-Team Emirates, at 52 secs
- Diego Lopez (Esp) Equipo Kern Pharma, at 53 secs
- Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-02
- Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-13
General classification after stage four
1. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 14-53-34
2. João Rodrigues (Por) W52/FC Porto, at 12 seconds
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep, at 21secs
4. Thibault Guernalec (Fra) Arkea-Samsic, at 22 secs
5. Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, at 42 secs
6. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Arkea-Samsic, at 53 secs
7. Elie Gesbert (Fra) Arkea-Samsic, at 56 secs
8. Sebastian Henao Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-18
9. Sean Quinn (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon, at 1-37
10. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Esp) Burgos-BH, at 1-43
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