On the first stage of the two-day Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho, Rally Cycling's general classification specialist, Gavin Mannion, rode to an impressive sixth-place finish and preserved his hopes of a strong overall result.
Emerson Oronte made it into the day's breakaway, helping to take the pressure off the rest of the squad as the domestic Portuguese teams took up the role of controlling the escape.
In the later phases, Rally Cycling's riders took turns attacking off the front, keeping the pressure piled high.
"I felt good at the end mostly due to my teammates keeping me out of the wind all day. I tried to get away on the last climb after Kyle [Murphy] lit it up for a bit, but wasn't able to get away from a small group of about five or so."
A full-gas sprint followed and Mannion was unable to overpower some of the pure speedsters. Keegan Swirbull, racing for the first time for Rally Cycling, was able to get inot the top 20 at the same time as Mannion.
The result puts Mannion into the perfect position heading into tomorrow's much tougher Queen stage.
"I'm definitely happy with the result and to have myself and Keegan on lead time. Tomorrow's stage will be more decisive for sure. It's always interesting racing here so I can't say I have any expectations at all, but it there's a chance to win I'll surely go for it!"
Team director, Patrick McCarty said.
"The guys were super aggressive for the final 20 km today and I think tomorrow's steep, three-kilometer uphill finish could work really well for us."
The second and final stage kicks off Sunday and will see the peloton cover 144 hilly kilometers from Turcifal to Carvoeira.
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