March 18, 2007 – Portugal – Team Slipstream continued it’s busy early season European race schedule with a recent four-day stage race in Portugal. Everyone on the team was happy to trade the cold, windy and wet conditions of Belgium for some sun and warm temperatures in southern Portgual for the 2nd edition of the Volta ao Santarém.
With the sun and warmth, and somewhat more laid back racing style than in Belgium, Team Slipstream was able to utilize this very well organized event to get some long racing miles in, and help several riders ease their way back from illness. Volta ao Santarém featured three long road stages geared towards sprint finishes, and one fairly short individual time trial.
Here’s a quick run-through of the stages and the team’s top result or two:
Stage 1 – 206 km: Thursday there was a long early break out in front for 135 km, but when they were caught Team Slipstream’s Steven Cozza and one other rider put in a hard attack and built a decent lead. Unfortunately, thanks to the sprinters’ teams cranking up the pace to set up their leadout trains, they got caught inside 10 km to go. Slipstream’s young Aussie sprinter Ben Johnson was 17th in field sprint.
Stage 2 – 187 km: Friday’s stage was another flat course suitable for a field sprint. In the end, Johnson finished highest in the sprint for Slipstream, in 22nd place.
Stage 3 – TT, 17.8 km: Saturday’s time trial was a sure bet to organize most of the overall standings for the stage race, and it turned out that no one from Team Slipstream was feeling spectacular on this day. The team’s best results were turned in by Frenchman Kilian Patour (11th, 0:42 down), and Danny Pate (21st, 0:50 down).
Stage 4 – 166 km: Another road stage on Sunday, and another sprint finish. Johnson ended up 30th.
Final General Classification
Kilian Patour 15th overall
Danny Pate 21st overall