By Nigel Wynn
Australian Richie Porte scored his first victory for Sky, winning stage three of the Tour of the Algarve on the category two Alto do Malhao climb. It's the British squad's second consecutive victory in the race after Edvald Boasson Hagen won on Thursday.
Porte got the better of Portuguese home favourites Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) and Rui Costa (Movistar) on the race's big ascent to net the overall lead from team-mate Boasson Hagen.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finished in tenth spot, at the same time as 2011 winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) - 40 seconds behind stage winner Porte.
Sky had worked hard all day, controlling any escapes and keeping race leader Boasson Hagen and Porte out of trouble. Wiggins put in a stinging turn to launch Porte at the base of the final climb, a move that broke up the lead group.
Despite a subsequent attack by Machado, Porte powered past in the final kilometre to take his first victory since winning the time trial stage in the Tour of Denmark last year with Saxo Bank - his only win of the 2011 season.
Winner of the same stage last year, Brit Steve Cummings (BMC), crashed heavily and could not repeat the win.
The day's result sets up an enticing final stage on Sunday - a truly decisive 25.8km individual time trial that could see a complete reshuffle of the top order of the general classification.
Porte is a strong rider against the clock and his rivals will have their work cut out for them to make up time. Defending Algarve champion and world time trial champion Tony Martin will have to push very hard to make up his 50 second deficit over Porte on GC.
Before then, the riders must complete Saturday's 186.3km stage from Vilamoura to Tavira which features the category three climb of Barranco do Velho, peaking at the 50km mark, before a long descent to the finish line.
Tour of the Algarve 2012, stage three: Castro Marim to Malhao, 194.6km
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky in 4-55-11
2. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at 8 secs
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at same time
4. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 24 secs
5. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at same time
7. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 31 secs
8. Jose Mendes (Por) LA-Antarte at 35 secs
9. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 40 secs
10. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
2. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at 12 secs
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at 14 secs
4. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 34 secs
5. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 34 secs
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 34 secs
7. Jose Mendes (Por) LA-Antarte at 45 secs
8. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 48 secs
9. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 49 secs
10. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 50 secs
Tour of the Algarve 2012: Related links
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