Tavira, Portugal - UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team's Boy Van Poppel sprinted to an 8th place finish today in what turned out to be a very exciting and eventful 167km Stage 4 in the 2011 Volta ao Algarve.
Teamwork once again proved to be critical for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, and the Blue Train delivered the young sprinter from the Netherlands to a top 10 finish despite multiple crashes in the peloton throughout the stage. After finishing in the top group of sprinters in Stage 2, Van Poppel landed in the top 10 today behind stage winner Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and other top sprinters.
"The Team really protected me today and I was able to bomb the last four corners," Van Poppel said. "I'm happy with the top 10 finish today. Our goal is to continue racing hard and tomorrow we get another chance to do just that. We're looking forward to Sunday's time trial."
General Manager and Directeur Sportif, Mike Tamayo, added, "The 37th edition of the Volta has lived up to expectations and it has been a great race so far. We're pleased with Boy's top 10 finish today. This field is outstanding and I'm proud of the way our guys are racing. This Team never stops working together and it showed again today."
RESULTS - STAGE 4: ALBUFEIRA-TAVIRA, KM 167.3 AVERAGE 42.369 km / h
1 Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma), 3h56m55s
2 Michael Matthews (Rabobank) s/t
3 Antony Ravard (AG2R), s/t
4 Tyler Farrar (Garmin), s/t
5 Allan Davis (Astana), s/t
6 John Degenkolb (HTC), s/t
7 Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step), s/t
8 Boy Van Poppel (United Health Care), s/t
9 Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil), s/t
10 Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank), s/t
THE RACE SO FAR
Rory Sutherland is now within 20 seconds of top 10 position overall, and with one stage - tomorrow's individual time trial - left to race, Sutherland could advance in the general classification. In the final climb of yesterday's Stage 3, Sutherland finished within seconds of the world's best, including Alberto Contador (Sungard-Saxo Bank), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo), and Andreas Klöden (Radioshack), among others.
Overall, the Team continues to work as a strong unit. Jonny Clarke helped Robert Förster back after a steep climb, and Sutherland, Christian Meier and Charly Wegelius were right there with Van Poppel throughout the Stage 4 today until Meier and Wegelius were involved in a late race crash, from which both rose to finish the stage. Also, Brad White is recovering and continues to race hard following a crash during Stage 2.
Christian Meier was also a strong presence in the race earlier in the week, when he was a protagonist in a breakaway group of 4 riders that stayed clear of the peloton for most of the day on Stage 1.
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Roster for the 2011 Volta ao Algarve:
Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Christian Meier (CAN)
Charles Wegelius (GBR)
Robert Förster (GER)
Morgan Schmitt (USA)
Boy Van Poppel (NED)
Brad White (USA)
Jonny Clarke (AUS)
Photo: Rui Quinta