BREAKDOWN: Algarve, Andalucía, Alpes and UAE Tour Takeaways

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Ten Takeaways from Algarve, Andalucía, Alpes and UAE: Spencer Martin gives us his ‘Race Breakdown’ from the busiest weekend of racing so far. What have we learnt from the Volta ao Algarve, Vuelta a Andalucía – Ruta del Sol, Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var and the UAE Tour, going into the Spring season?

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

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A stunning performance from Remco Evenepoel in Algarve

The races came thick and fast over the past weekend as nearly all the top riders in pro cycling lined up to race at one of the many races spaced over multiple continents. Remco Evenepoel further cemented his status as a small stage race destroyer by shredding all comers at the Volta Algarve while Wout Poels reminded everyone while he was once the most feared climbing domestique in the sport by shocking the favorites to take the overall win at the Vuelta a Andalucía, and Jasper Philipsen took first blood in the sprint royale in Abu Dhabi at the UAE Tour.

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First WorldTour blood to Philipsen in UAE

To help us digest this blinding flurry of performance from the sport’s top talents, below are the weekend’s ten biggest takeaways:

Volta Algarve:

1) Remco Evenepoel wins the overall title for the second time in his career after a dominant performance in the stage 3 time trial and easily defending his lead on the summit finish on the race’s final stage.

  • This second career overall win at Algarve means has now 25 pro wins at the age of just 22-years-old (which I believe is second only to Eddy Merckx’s 27 pro wins at the same age).
  • While this is undeniably impressive, does it really teach us anything? Out of his 24 pro wins, only three are at the WorldTour level (compared to 21 for his peer Tadej Pogačar).
  • We already knew he was nearly unstoppable at lower-level pro races prior to Algarve, so this win doesn’t tell us if he is able to step up and replicate these performances when the level is higher at major races during the 2022 season.

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Another win for Remco and Quick-Step

Vuelta a Andalucía:

2) Just as I thought Miguel Ángel López was ready to put his miserable tenure at Movistar behind him by winning the overall at Andalucía, his Astana team massively screwed up their strategy in the stage 4 finale and almost certainly cost the Colombian the overall win.

  • While his Astana teammate Alexey Lutsenko rode clear with López’s main GC threat Wout Poels in the final few kilometers, López was forced to suffer the indignity of attempting to chase down his own teammate to no avail.
  • This meant he was forced to head into the race’s final stage ten seconds down on Poels, instead of comfortably in the race lead.
  • It might be a relatively small pre-season race, but the tactical screw-up was almost inconceivably bad and made it clear that his Astana team lacks either the tactical nous or dedication to help López get back onto grand tour overall podiums.

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Lutsenko and Poels ripped it up on stage 4

3) The race’s overall winner, 34-year-old Wout Poels, resurrected his long-dead GC career by shocking the experts by getting his first overall GC victory in six years.

  • While he has been absent from the front of major races in recent years, he looked like the Poels we knew at Team Sky over the weekend when he powered away of all other GC contenders at the end of stage 4 and rode so strongly on the stage 5 summit finish that he distanced López, who needed to put time into Poels to take the overall win.

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López was good, but Yates looked the strongest

4) Simon Yates looked the strongest of the GC contenders over the weekend, but still only finished 20-second back in fifth place overall.

  • This failure to win an early-season race certainly won’t ruin his season, but the fact that he missed the obvious breakaway (two riders high up in the GC from the two strongest teams in the breakaway) at the end of stage 4 after being so active pulling back obviously doomed moves (ones with no GC threats from Bahrain) shows that his race-reading ability hasn’t improved as he has entered the veteran stage of his career.

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Alessandro Covi is in form with wins in Andalucía and Murcia

5) Bora-Hansgrohe might have flopped in the GC competition, but they displayed incredible teamwork the final stage to deliver Lennard Kämna the stage win.

  • They packed the move with three strong riders and played the odds by displaying a willingness to lose the stage in the critical moments to beautifully walk Alessandro Covi into a trap and send Kämna clear for the win.

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Stage win for Kämna

6) It is clear that Ineos has struck gold with 19-year-old American Magnus Sheffield

  • The young American proved an impressive versatility by using raw power to power clear in the final kilometer to win stage 3 and then coming back and hanging tough to finish third in the summit finish on stage 5.
  • Ineos tends to take a venture capital ‘spray and pray’ approach with young talent, but it is already clear that Sheffield is one of the team’s rare development hits and could be a star for the team in years to come.

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The old magic from Wout Poels

7) Speaking of Ineos, despite bringing a depth of GC talent and putting in significant work at the front across both Algarve and Andalucía, Dani Martínez’s 3rd overall at Andalucía was the only podium place they could come away with.

  • For the team that dominated one-week stage races in 2021, this can’t be the result they were hoping for across the two races.
  • And more importantly than the results, they failed to find any obvious solutions to their grand tour contender depth issues.
  • However, one interesting bright spot is Martínez’s stage 4 TT performance. While he joined everyone in being blown out of the water by Evenepoel, he impressively finished only 32-seconds behind Stefan Küng over the 32km-long course.

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Ineos’ only bright spot of the weekend: Daniel Felipe Martínez Poveda’s Algarve time trial performance

Tour des Alpes:

8) Nairo Quintana took the overall win after proving his strength for the second-consecutive weekend by storming clear in the final kilometers of both stages 2 & 3. While I cautioned last week that he still has a ways to go before being back in the grand tour contender conversation, this performance further cements his status as ‘back’.’

  • This was impressive and great to see, but as I said last week, while Quintana is riding well at the moment, he will still need to improve his watts per kilo climbing performances before the Tour if he wants to consistently stay in the front group on the hardest stages.
  • And with his Arkea team recently turning down an invitation to the Giro d’Italia, his best chance at winning a grand tour in 2022 has unfortunately been tossed out the window.

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Nairo Quintana kept his powder dry till the finalé

UAE Tour


Watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of the UAE Tour 2022 on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.


9) Jasper Philipsen threw down an impressive marker and proved his breakout 2021 season was no fluke after winning the sprint talent-packed opening stage.

  • The first WorldTour race of the season being won by a rider from a non-WorldTour team is both a massive win for Philipsen and his Alpecin-Fenix team and sightly embarrassing for the WorldTour teams at the race.
  • While the win was impressive, Philipsen’s move to squeeze a surging Dylan Groenewegen against the barriers in the final few meters was dangerous and borderline illegal.

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Impressive Philipsen

10) Sam Bennett came into the UAE Tour looking to prove he is still one of the sport’s top sprinters after a difficult 2021 season but came away empty-handed after being beaten by a seemingly faster Philipsen.

  • However, he was forced to make up a lot of space in the final hundred meters after being left too far back by his Bora team’s lead-out.
  • If the team can get on the same page and get Bennett in better position in the coming sprint stages, keep an eye out for a vicious Bennett comeback.

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Can the BORA lead-out train get Sam Bennett over the line first?


# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #


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Young US hope, Magnus Sheffield was impressive

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