Cees Bol was the first rider to deny Quick-Step in the Volta ao Algarve as he took stage three with a stunning sprint.
The Sunweb rider launched his dash for the line 200 metres from the line and it looked as though he may have made a misstep as rivals closed on his wheel.
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But Bol used his towering build to keep the power on and bested the other sprinters, including stage one winner Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
There was no change in the general classification picture as Quick-Step’s Remco Evenepoel holds on to the leader’s jersey.
How it happened
The stakes were high in southern Portugal as stage three was the last opportunity for the sprinters to reach the top step.
With a long 201km day in the saddle, the peloton rode from Faro to Tavira on the coast via a winding inland route with two categorised climbs along the way.
The opening 80 kilometres covered undulating terrain, with a 4.2km and 4.4 per cent gradient climb topping out 60km in and another third category climb following immediately after, cresting at 77km.
Riders then surged downhill until around 50km left to race, where a collection of uncategorised ramps kept the course demanding.
The final 15km were mostly flat, with two roundabouts to navigate in the final 2km and a 90-degree turn to navigate inside 1km before the straight line for the finish.
Owing to the predicted sprint finish, only three smaller teams opted to dedicate a rider to the breakaway, with Gotzon Martin (Fundación-Orbea), Tiago Antunes (Efapel) and Alexander Grigoryev (Atum General-Tavira-Maria Nova Hotel).
The break were allowed a gap of around 2-30, which didn’t change for much of the day, the peloton then starting to bring them slowly back in the final 60km, and with 30km to the line the gap was under 30 seconds and the lead group were in sight of the peloton.
Just as the catch was about to me made, the peloton approached a roundabout and not everyone made it through safely, as three Trek-Segafredo riders collided with a traffic island and Edward Theuns, Jasper Stuyven and Koen de Koert all went down.
Fortunately they were able to get back on their bikes and finish the stage.
The peloton swept up the escapees and all eyes turned to the final, with UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck – Quick-Step holding position at the head of the peloton.
Into the final kilometres and everyone made it safely past the two roundabouts with Sunweb doing much of the work, but it was Quick-Step’s train who led into the 90-degree turn 400m from the line, with Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) using the corner to move up.
But Sunweb hit the front again, as Bol waited on his lead-out rider’s wheel before launching his sprint with 200m to race on a gradual incline.
It looked as though Bol made have fired too soon, as Sacha Modolo (Alpecin-Fenix) and Fabio Jakobsen gained on him rapidly.
Bol kept the wattage high and held off his rivals to take his fourth career win in his second year as a pro.
Modolo took second with Jakobsen only managing third.
Volta ao Algarve 2020, stage three: Faro to Tavira 201.9km
1. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb, in 5-00-51
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Daniel Hoelgaard Uno-X Norwegian Development Team
6. Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
7. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
8. Roger Kluger (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
9. Jon Aberasturi (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 14-43-06
2. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
3. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 2s
4. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation
5. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, both at same time
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 5s
7. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52 – FC Porto, at 8s
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10. Amaro Antunes (Por) Atum general – Tavira – Maria Nova Hotel, all at same time