Volta ao Algarve 2022 (February 16-20)

Algarve this week, UAE the next, it's the season for least original stage race designs. This race is always won by the strongest teams in the sport, the last 10 editions have only seen winners from Sky/Ineos, Quickstep, Lotto, UAE and W52, can anyone break the trend this year?



Startlist

Stage 1




After a year's absence, the usual sprint finish in Not Nigeria returns. Fabio Jakobsen won this stage the last two times. The wind may be strong enough for echelons tomorrow, so the odds of a threepeat look reasonably high.

The main climb of the day is the one to Nave, it´s the first 6 kilometres of the profile below.



The finish looks like this, the little bump that crests at 2 kilometres to go is the bigger worry for the sprint trains.


Stage 2




Same finish, different run-in.

Picota:


Alto da Fóia:


Stage 3




For the first time since 2008, Faro hosts a stage finish. The final 500 metres average 4%, coming after what is the only real turn in a finale that's exclusively on highways.



Stage 4




For once, my complaint about the TT is that it's too long. The climb in the middle is 3.3 kilometres at 3.4%, nothing to deter the powerhouses.

Stage 5




After the final stage was cut down to a single ascent of Malhão last year, we return to the usual in this edition.

Alte:


Malhão (1st ascent):


There's the usual tricky ramp of 900 metres at 9.7% on the way back to the bottom of the second and final ascent of Malhão:
 
It's a pity the ITT is so long. Maybe McNulty can challenge Remco for GC. A top form Thomas would also be a favourite of course, but I'm not sure what's his shape right now.
One would hope it remains somewhat interesting, but as far as ITT's go we have to be realistic, McNulty lost nearly 2m30s to Evenepoel last WCC ITT over 43km.
At the Olympics he lost more than 2m30s to Evenepoel over 44km. And in the 15k San Juan ITT in 2020 he lost 1m26 to Evenepoel.

People like to talk (with glee) about how disappointing Evenepoel was there, but they forget to compare his efforts to other youngsters (even though he's still 2 years younger).

Maybe they were expecting Almeida to be there.
While Almeida lost 1m17s to Evenepoel at the Olympics, he also lost over a minute in the 20k Algarve TT in 2020. And last Euro TT he again lost over a minute in 22k.

Both were able to once (barely) beat Evenepoel in a shorter ITT (8 and 11k) when he was not in the best shape (first day after comeback / sick).

So far i have seen no evidence that suggests they would beat Evenepoel in a 32k ITT.
 
Evenepoel will win this with ease. They could have renamed this stage race Tour de Evenepoel when they decided to include a 32k time trial in a race that is often decided by seconds in those hilly finishes.
 
Evenepoel will win this with ease. They could have renamed this stage race Tour de Evenepoel when they decided to include a 32k time trial in a race that is often decided by seconds in those hilly finishes.
They had editions with longer ITTs back when Evenepoel could barely walk. You are acting like it's new for them to have a long-ish ITT. For a 5 day stage race the gaps in GC have actually been quite a bit more than seconds most of the editions over the last years.
 
Reactions: Big Doopie
The long ITT might make Foia more interesting than normal if there's more incentive to open the race up earlier... I'm reaching, it'll be a 500m sprint but you never know.
Assuming Evenepoel is in decent shape, I'm thinking the opposite. Foia is basically tailored for Evenepoel, not too steep yet short enough that he could even consider going in the offensive himself, should he find himself isolated early on the climb. It's a climb where guys like Shachmann, Wellens, Hayter even Van Avermaet can survive. So who of the "climbers" (bad at ITT) is going to risk attacking early on, knowing with a 32k ITT they would need to take 2 minutes on Foia+Malhao wich is simply not realistic. And so i believe they (the climbers) will probably ride for a stage win and not for GC. Unless maybe the GC/ITT guys start eyeballing each other and drop the tempo. Even if they don't wait, it might not blow the lid off, since the GC guys know the climbers won't survive the ITT anyway.

I'm thinking at best it will be single digit differences on Foia + boniseconds. The only stage you could realistically "drop" rivals is on Malhao, but that climb is too short as well for big time gaps. So including boni seconds, you could maybe take 30 to 45s on both climbs combined if we're being generous. That would be futile for guys like Gaudu knowing there is the ITT. So we're looking at maybe Foss, McNulty, Thomas etc... to be in prime shape, that they can stay withing 30s of Evenepoel in the ITT, and at the same time take more than 30s on both climbs.

Basically, i you can't win the GC on the climbs, you can only lose the GC on the climbs.
 
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Assuming Evenepoel is in decent shape, I'm thinking the opposite. Foia is basically tailored for Evenepoel, not too steep yet short enough that he could even consider going in the offensive himself, should he find himself isolated early on the climb. It's a climb where guys like Shachmann, Wellens, Hayter even Van Avermaet can survive. So who of the "climbers" (bad at ITT) is going to risk attacking early on, knowing with a 32k ITT they would need to take 2 minutes on Foia+Malhao wich is simply not realistic. And so i believe they (the climbers) will probably ride for a stage win and not for GC. Unless maybe the GC/ITT guys start eyeballing each other and drop the tempo. Even if they don't wait, it might not blow the lid off, since the GC guys know the climbers won't survive the ITT anyway.

I'm thinking at best it will be single digit differences on Foia + boniseconds. The only stage you could realistically "drop" rivals is on Malhao, but that climb is too short as well for big time gaps. So including boni seconds, you could maybe take 30 to 45s on both climbs combined if we're being generous. That would be futile for guys like Gaudu knowing there is the ITT. So we're looking at maybe Foss, McNulty, Thomas etc... to be in prime shape, that they can stay withing 30s of Evenepoel in the ITT, and at the same time take more than 30s on both climbs.

Basically, i you can't win the GC on the climbs, you can only lose the GC on the climbs.
Shhhhh. Don’t u like it when the forum abounds with poor expectations for the “belgian spilak”. Please don’t feed the haters…even if your logic is flawless.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
They had editions with longer ITTs back when Evenepoel could barely walk. You are acting like it's new for them to have a long-ish ITT. For a 5 day stage race the gaps in GC have actually been quite a bit more than seconds most of the editions over the last years.
Ah yeah now that i am looking at the results. Foia and Malhao often had splits of minutes between the riders in recent years….

And very good of you that you have found some examples of a longer ITT a lot of years back. Still doesnt make me like the parcours more now that I realize they have done it like this before.
 
This race is so perfect for Remco. 32k of ITT and not super hard stages with the climbs. I'll focus on ruta del sol this week
Evenepoel is a good time trialer who only won one important ITT (EC 2019) prior to his accident. Guys lile Kung and Thomas have way more references for a long ITT like this one.

And as you mentioned no real mountain stages so the good time trialers should be able to minimize time losses and the punchers should be able to gain time over Evenepoel who, according to most, has weak sprinting (bonifications) and punching skills.

I would rather say that this race is quite open with 4/5 riders able to pull a win (Pidcock, Kung, Thomas, McNulty, ...)
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Evenepoel is a good time trialer who only won one important ITT (EC 2019) prior to his accident. Guys lile Kung and Thomas have way more references for a long ITT like this one.

And as you mentioned no real mountain stages so the good time trialers should be able to minimize time losses and the punchers should be able to gain time over Evenepoel who, according to most, has weak sprinting (bonifications) and punching skills.

I would rather say that this race is quite open with 4/5 riders able to pull a win (Pidcock, Kung, Thomas, McNulty, ...)
Pidcock will start his road season here and last year it took him a few race days to hit a good level after switching from cross. Plus he has zero relevant results in pro TTs.

McNulty might be interesting. He has been on fire thus far.
 
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Evenepoel is a good time trialer who only won one important ITT (EC 2019) prior to his accident. Guys lile Kung and Thomas have way more references for a long ITT like this one.

And as you mentioned no real mountain stages so the good time trialers should be able to minimize time losses and the punchers should be able to gain time over Evenepoel who, according to most, has weak sprinting (bonifications) and punching skills.

I would rather say that this race is quite open with 4/5 riders able to pull a win (Pidcock, Kung, Thomas, McNulty, ...)
I'm sure you want to downplay Evenepoel's chances here, but i disagree very much. Look at who his competitors are here. If you want to argue Evenepoel only won one important TT, then his competitors won zero. He's finished on the podium of the WCC already twice (40+ & 50+ km), he wiped the floor with his "main" competitor here (McNulty) in both long TT's they faced off. And if you think Küng, who has a chance to beat him in the TT, is going to stay close enough on both MTF... well, he'd have to pull off the TT of his life.
 
Reactions: Carrick-On-Seine
Evenepoel is a good time trialer who only won one important ITT (EC 2019) prior to his accident. Guys lile Kung and Thomas have way more references for a long ITT like this one.

And as you mentioned no real mountain stages so the good time trialers should be able to minimize time losses and the punchers should be able to gain time over Evenepoel who, according to most, has weak sprinting (bonifications) and punching skills.

I would rather say that this race is quite open with 4/5 riders able to pull a win (Pidcock, Kung, Thomas, McNulty, ...)
Küng has absolutely no chance with Foia and Malhao finishes. It’s not even a given that he will beat Remco in the tt. Pidcock hasnt really shown anything in stage racing (at pro level) yet. McNulty seems to be in stellar shape but is very inconsistent climbing wise.
I’m not particularly fond of Remco, but you have to be quite biased to not acknowledge that he is a big, big favourite for this race.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan

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