Stage two was big on climbs and beautiful scenery through the Algarve countryside. Temperatures and wind conditions cooperated all day, which made the race a pure battle of legs and wits. As was expected, the action truly began on three highly technical circuits around Monchique. Each circuit had a different layout, but all featured narrow city back roads and steep, punishing climbs.
Phil Gaimon joined an elite move on the second to last lap, but it did not carry enough weight to make it to the line. Phil’s fellow climbing ace and O&B rookie Mike Woods delivered an impressive and eye opening result, charging to the line with a group of all WorldTour riders behind solo winner Geraint Thomas of Sky. It bodes very well for the team’s racing on the slopes for 2015.
Mike Woods on what helped motivated his big result in stage two:
Phil Gaimon got in a really good move just after the start of the final KOM climb. It was a nice move – it is so tough fighting with Sky and Etixx-QuickStep for position all the time so Phil got off the front to avoid that. Meanwhile I stayed in the mix – Ryan Anderson and I were fighting the entire final lap and spent the final 25k trying to get in position and ready for the last corner which dropped us into a crazy descent. We were in OK position but the descent was really hairy, so when we came into the final climb we were pretty far back. We pinned it on the climb and I was able to stick with the front group.
It was a tough day – I wasn’t feeling great and I was definitely suffering on the final climb. My cousin died a few days ago. I cried pretty hard yesterday. When I was on the climb hurting today, I just thought of him. I thought, ‘I’m gonna do this for Ryan’. I think that’s the reason I made the front group. Otherwise I probably would have fallen off.
Phil Gaimon on his aggressive tactics in the races final kilometers:
It was a late move I knew the circuits pretty well, we pre-rode them a few days ago. I knew it was going to be pretty hairy to position well – tight roads and twisty climbs, being not the biggest team we don’t really get to start the climbs where we want to so the late breakaway looked good to me. I went across to it a little late which… hurt. I was feeling good in there but the group was too big and everyone was too fresh so it wasn’t gonna make it. It was fun to throw it down there the first big race of the year and the first climb. I’m feeling good.
the circuit didn’t really suit me – there were a couple little climbs that were nice and steep, and a good place to attack on a longer climb but it was tight and fast, and slightly scary turns so it was nice to be off the front and see them rather then pushing around a bunch of big dudes.
Ryan Anderson on the race’s hectic closing circuits:
The race really started with 100k to go, and those 100k were hard. The last 50k were full gas. The circuits were on really tight, narrow roads. We were constantly going up and down – I think we gained the majority of our elevation gain for the day towards the end on those roads. Etixx-Quickstep have done well in the race here before so they know these roads well and they definitely put the hurt on the rest of the group. They were controlling the race all day for Meersman’s yellow jersey, and they committed to making everyone behind us really suffer once we got on the narrow roads.