Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team riders Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski had 28" and 19" to close on the GC in the final 34.8km Stage 4 Volta ao Algarve Time Trial on Sunday, which might have been too much time for many riders. However, this was not the case for the UCI World TT Champion Martin, and the young, strong Polish rider Kwiatkowski.
Martin won the final time trial by more than one minute with a time of 45'09", after also blazing through the intermediate section the fastest. Kwiatkowski, who was second at the intermediate point, was slower than his teammate but ahead of everyone else with a time of 46'16".
Those times were impressive enough for Martin and Kwiatkowski to go 1-2 in the stage and overall.
Tony's double victory gives OPQS 10, in three disciplines, in 2013.
"I am really happy," Martin said. "I was really looking to have a good day, and I had a good feeling immediately this morning during the reconnaissance. The parcour was really hard, with a lot of technical parts and little climbs where it was necessary to relaunch the action every time. Fortunately, it didn't rain during the TT. It rained a little bit before, but it stopped before so we had good conditions on the course during the TT. I really pushed a lot, and everything was perfect. There was a perfect approach to the race, and the result was because of all of these things.
"I also think I built my victory in the GC yesterday on the climb," Martin said about Alto do Malhao, the summit finish of Stage 3. "My condition is better than last year at this moment. I knew it was possible to not lose a lot of time from the best climbers, and my team and I made sure of it. Today I was really motivated to go for the GC. I already won this race in 2011. I won the TT and the GC. I have to say this kind of race, with an uphill finish, a TT, and sprint stages in the beginning is perfect for me. It's the kind of race I like and I am always looking for. I hope this victory helps me and the team continue to get good results during the season. I'd also like to thank my team and my teammates. They really protected me and Michal for the entire week. With the bad luck of Cav in the sprints, we really focused on the GC and the TT. Fortunately, we were successful. This is not just an individual victory, but a team victory."
As for Kwiatkowski, he was just as proud of his performance.
"We did a great recon this morning with Tony and with him there is always something I can learn," Kwiatkowski said. "Today I liked this kind iof parcour. It was not one for the big gear — it was a bit more technical with a lot of shifting. I like that kind of parcour the most. I am very happy about the entire week, even on the climb yesterday. I saw the job I did in the last month to improve on the climbs pay off. I had good results at this race and I am happy about it."
Sports Director Tom Steels was just as happy with these two riders, but also the entire team at Volta ao Algarve.
"We are really happy as this is the best way to close a race where we were always protagonists," Steels said. "After a little bit of bad luck with Cavendish for the sprint stages, our guys did a perfect team job. Tony and Kwiatkowski realized the efforts of everybody today. They were perfect on a not so easy parcour. That is why I am really proud of this victory, and we are looking forward to the next races."
PHOTO CREDIT: Rui Quinta