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Volta ao Algarve. Stage 4. Miguel Angel Lopez wins atop Alto do Malhão

Attacking with 500 meters to go on a steep part of the final climb Alto do Malhão, Miguel Angel Lopez has scored his first success of the year, winning the fourth stage of the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta. 

- I was aiming this stage, because I knew I could do something good on the final climb. Indeed, it was quite short, but in the same time very steep and hard. There were many attacks in the final, but I decided to wait until the last 500 meters, when I attacked from the leading group. I opened a gap and at the final 200 meters I just gave my best to keep my advantage. I am very happy with my win; this means that all hard work done during the winter I did in a right way. This is my first race of the year and it is an important test for me at the start of the season. The whole team did a great job today, my teammates provided me a very strong support and I am happy to finish all this work with a victory. Tomorrow I will have another important test at the individual time trial, and I want to do it as good as possible, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.

- We were motivated to try something on this stage, because we knew that Miguel Angel is in a good form after two training camps in January and February. A huge amount of work has been done, and we wanted to see his level at this point of the season. The team was super today, the guys were close to Miguel Angel when we passed Malhão for the first time and later, on a dangerous and technical descent. In the final it was all about the legs and our leader showed that he is strong. We all are happy with our victory and so nice start of the season for our team, - added Bruno Cenghialta, sports director of Astana Pro Team.

Stage 4 of the Volta ao Algarve was the last mountain stage of the race: the riders passed 169.7 km from Albufeira to Malhão with 5 categorized climbs on the distance. Once the race hit Alto do Malhão for the first time, the daily breakaway has been caught back and immediately a few riders tried to attack. Anyway, no one could escape on the steepest slopes of the climb, thus the main group came back together on the descent before playing the stage on the final climb.

Until the last kilometer the main favorites stayed all together in the group, while the decisive move came from Miguel Angel Lopez who launched his powerful attack with 500 meters to go. 

After his win the Astana Pro Team rider moved up to the fourth position in the general classification of the Volta ao Algarve. With only one stage to go Lopez is 1 second behind the current race leader Remco Evenepoel, who finished third today.

The final, 5th stage will be held tomorrow: it will be a 20.3-km-long individual time trial in Lagoa.

Photo credit: © Getty Images

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