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Volta ao Algarve 2024 - 2.Pro (February 14-18)

The route of the Portuguese cycling tour didn't change much compared to previous years. The mountain stages to the Alto da Fóia and Alto do Malhão are now a regular occurrence and the caravan is once again visiting Lagos and Lagoa. There is also an individual time trial again, now on the penultimate day. Last year that was the closing event. [1]

Stage 1 - 200.8km - February 14
First stage is for the sprinters, last two winners were Jakobsen and Kristoff.

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Stage 2 - 171.9km - February 15
On day two, we finish on the climb to the Alto da Foía (7.5 km at 7.3%). A difficult obstacle, but the past editions of the Volta ao Algarve have taught us that the differences on this mountain are usually not too great. And that you don't have to be a pure climber to win there. For example, Magnus Cort was the best last year, ahead of (an accidentally cheering) Ilan Van Wilder.

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Stage 3 - 192.2km - February 16

Stage three is again relatively easy. We start in Vila Real Santo António, near the border with Spain. A long loop is then made through the interior with the climbs to Alcaria (2.3 km at 6.9%) and Faz Fato (4.7 km at 3.%). It's not all that difficult. After 192 kilometers we will most likely see a bunch sprint.

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Stage 4 - 22km - February 17

The fourth stage could prove to be decisive for the general classification. Twenty-two kilometers of time-trialing, to and from the seaside resort Albufeira. The course is undulating and contains one strip of eight hundred meters at about eight percent. Far from flat, but the riders with big engines should still be able to handle this well. It's mainly straight forward until the last few more technical kilometers.

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Stage 5 - 200.8km - February 18

Climbers who had to give up time in the chrono test will have the opportunity to strike back in the final stage. There are five categorized slopes in stage five. The climbs to Picota (third category) and Vermelhos (third category) may be a bit too far from the finish, but climbing them will undoubtedly cause some fatigue among the riders. The final can really get underway just over forty kilometers from the finish with the climb to Alte (2.4 km at 6.2%), labeled by the organization as a third category slope. Once past Alte, the riders no longer really have the opportunity to catch their breath, as the Alto do Malhão looms quite quickly. This tough climb of 2.6 kilometers, at over 9%, is on the program not once, but twice. First at about 25 kilometers from the end and then as the final part of the stage. When the drivers surface for the second time, we know who wins the stage and who wins the lap.

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This must be the most formulaic route for a stage race of the season. Always the same.
UAE Tour called, it wants its title back.

And then there's other stuff with very little variation too - the other desert races, Antalya, Langkawi, Burgos, San Juan until it folded.

Yes, most of those races are in terrain with not that many other options, but that goes for Algarve too. Although I can think of a few interesting climbs they could feasibly introduce to this race - which is needed, because as you allude to, it's all rather stale now.
 
I agree that the TT is too long. Would be better if they did a prologue of 6-7km's. A 22km ITT has too much impact compared to the other stages on who will win this.
Disregarding NCs because they aren't relevant to most riders, this TT is literally the only one longer than 15k until Romandie at the earliest (route details not announced yet). So if you take away this TT, you take away what is easily the best opportunity for riders to test their TT setup in a race before the Giro.
 
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Van Aert is the only one who i think could realistically beat Evenepoel here. Ganna and Küng will lose too much time on Malhao even if they manage to TT marginally better than Evenepoel (which is not that likely to begin with, especially for Küng). Van Aert however could take boniseconds in every finish including Foia, except for Malhao. If his TT is again what it used to be, he could do it. I don't think anyone else in the entire pro peloton could beat Evenepoel on this route otherwise.

Unfortunately for the viewers of this race, Van Aert has said that he doesn't intend to ride for GC here. Ganna and Küng aren't going to cut it, Arensman will likely lose time on Malhao and the TT, Pidcock might snatch a few seconds on Malhoa but lose them tenfold in the TT. Closest rival might be last year's winner, Dani Martinez. He now won't have to work for his teammates on Foia (unlike last year), he could beat Evenepoel on Malhao and he does have a good TT.

I agree that the TT is too long. Would be better if they did a prologue of 6-7km's. A 22km ITT has too much impact compared to the other stages on who will win this.
Well... to be honest, i don't entirely share that sentiment. It's the only 1 week stage race on the calendar where the TT has this much of an impact on the overall GC. There are plenty of stage races without a TT and too much emphasis on climbs, that this offers some variation in that regard. The main problem lies within the two "mountain" stages which are too bland, maybe they should mix those up a bit. But last year you got a mix in the top 10 of TT'ers that can climb a bit, and climbers that can TT a bit. It's a bit like Fleche, it's the same and predictable, but it remains interesting as long as it is the only race like that on the calendar.
 
Disregarding NCs because they aren't relevant to most riders, this TT is literally the only one longer than 15k until Romandie at the earliest (route details not announced yet). So if you take away this TT, you take away what is easily the best opportunity for riders to test their TT setup in a race before the Giro.
Good point, didn't know that.

Well... to be honest, i don't entirely share that sentiment. It's the only 1 week stage race on the calendar where the TT has this much of an impact on the overall GC. There are plenty of stage races without a TT and too much emphasis on climbs, that this offers some variation in that regard. The main problem lies within the two "mountain" stages which are too bland, maybe they should mix those up a bit. But last year you got a mix in the top 10 of TT'ers that can climb a bit, and climbers that can TT a bit. It's a bit like Fleche, it's the same and predictable, but it remains interesting as long as it is the only race like that on the calendar.
It would indeed make more sense to put a bigger emphasis on the mountain stages to compensate the long TT.
 
Since WVA isn’t going for the GC, maybe Kuss can have a go
He seems to be in good form this early. But i don't see him on the podium. Foia is neither steep nor long enough to do damage. Malhao is probably too punchy for him. And the TT, well we'll see if he can replicate his tremendous Vuelta TT. But he'll need to do even better to have a chance at a podium.
 
Have we seen him on short explosive climbs when he actually goes for it?
Most recent example i can think of is the climb in the Vuelta where he attacked (the stage Roglic won and Evenepoel thought there was still a rider from the break up the road) was a tiny bit steeper and about 1k longer. Kuss attacked and Evenepoel reeled him back in without too much issue. In any case, differences here will be a lot smaller than the differences in the TT. Even if he wins the Malhao stage. Pidcock won here last year, was leading GC at that point, but didn't even make the top 5 after the TT.
 
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Half of Ineos team could top3 here, but who will be the leaders?
This was a problem last year. When Martinez was working for his teammates (Ganna, Pidcock, Arensmans) while in fact he was the strongest and barely won in the end.
Will be interesting to see how Sheffield does. He will lose some time on Malhao, the question is how much. If he can grab some bonis in the first stages with a late attack he might have a chance.