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Roche sits tight in GC as Ciolek wins in Tavira

Posted 18 February 2012

(Caption: Frank Togher and the Donegal cycling fans in the Algarve remind An Post Sean Kelly man Ronan McLaughlin that it could be a lot worse at home)

By Cillian Kelly, 

Nicolas Roche maintained his 11th place overall at the Volta ao Algarve after another strong performance on the penultimate stage of the race which took in 186.3 kilometres from Vilamoura to Tavira.

The AG2R-La Mondiale leader finished in the main peloton in 31st place alongside fellow Irishman Philip Deignan (United Healthcare) who ended the stage in 56th. 

Deignan remains in 30th place overall, an impressive showing considering he is shaking off the remnants of a chest infection. 

Gerald Ciolek (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) won the stage in a disorganised bunch sprint ahead of team mate Matteo Trentin and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda). 

Irish rider Ronan McLaughlin  (An Post Sean KellY) continued to prove his worth at this top level of racing as he also finished in the main bunch in 96th place. 

McLaughlin, despite being in the leading breakaway for almost 100km on stage three, showed great recovery by staying with the main bunch on today's tough stage.

The only other Irish rider in the race, Conor McConvey (An Post Sean Kelly), has now withdraw from the race.

Gediminas Bagdonas was the best placed rider for the An Post-Sean Kelly team as the winner of last year's Rás finished just behind Roche in 32nd place.

A group of ten riders broke clear just 25km into today's stage, which included a single third category climb. Just as on stage one, Roche's AG2R-La Mondiale team-mate Mikael Cherel was at the front of the race in the breakaway, thereby taking any responsibility off the team to contribute to the chase in the peloton.

The majority of that responsibility was accepted by Team Sky who were protecting the overall lead of the Australian Richie Porte. The British team controlled the advantage of the lead group, the last of whom were reeled in with just two kilometres to go as the slightly downhill finish led to an inevitable bunch sprint.

As the front of the peloton rounded the final bend, no team were successful in their attempts to form a cohesive lead-out train for their sprinter. In the resulting disarray, Trentin burst out of the bunch with Ciolek on his wheel. The German sprinter took advantage of the perfect setup by Trentin to come past and win his first race for almost two years.

Richie Porte maintains the overall lead ahead of tomorrow's final stage, a 25.8km time trial from Lagoa to Portimão. The Team Sky rider remains 12 seconds ahead of Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) and 14 seconds ahead of Rui Costa (Movistar). 

Porte is certainly the better time-triallist of the three but world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) still poses a significant threat and the German is well capable of making up his 50 second deficit and stopping Team Sky from celebrating victory overall.

The closing stage will also give Roche an opportunity to practice his time-trialling, a discipline in which the Irishman aims to improve as he attempts to achieve a good result at the Tour de France this July. 

He sits just 20 seconds back from finishing the week with a fourth place finish overall here at the Volta ao Algarve. However, he is also just 20 seconds from dropping out of the top 20 so he will be aiming to put in a strong performance on the final stage.


Volta ao Algarve

Stage 4: Vilamoura to Tavira, 186.3 kilometers

1. Gerald Ciolek (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) 4:35:01
2. Matteo Trentin (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) s.t. 
3. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda), 
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) s.t.
5. Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural) s.t.
6. Koldo Fernández (Garmin-Barracuda) s.t.
7. Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
8. Anthony Ravard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
9. Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) s.t.
10. Michael van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) s.t.

31. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R-LaMondiale s.t.
56. Philip Deignan (Irl) United Healthcare s.t.

An Post-Sean Kelly Team

32. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) s.t.
59. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) s.t.
96. Ronan McLoughlin (IRL) s.t.
120. Mark Christian (Gbr) at 1'28"
138. Niels Wytinck (Bel) at s.t.
Conor McConvey (IRL) DNF

General classification after stage 3

1. Richie Porte (Team Sky) 18:29:42
2. Rui Costa (Movistar) at 12s 
3. Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) at 12s 
4. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) at 34s 
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) s.t.
6. Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t. 
7. José Mendes (LA-Antarte) at 45s 
8. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda), at 48s 
9. Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) at 49s 
10. Tony Martin (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) at 50s 

11. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R-LaMondiale at 54 seconds
30. Philip Deignan (Irl) United Healthcare at 1 minute 39 seconds

An Post-Sean Kelly Team

120. Ronan McLoughlin (IRL) at 20 minutes 22 seconds
68. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) at 5 minutes 46 seconds
84. Mark Christian (Gbr) at 8 minutes 57 seconds
125. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) at 20 minutes 45 seconds
139. Niels Wytinck (Bel) at 24 minutes 55 seconds
Conor McConvey (IRL) DNF

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