What's Cool In Road Cycling

Oliveira Runner-Up Again At Joe Martin Stage Race

Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team’s Rui Oliveira scored his second straight runner-up finish – again in a photo finish – Saturday on Stage 3 of the Joe Martin Stage Race.

Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team’s Rui Oliveira (center, in white) came up just short in the bunch sprint finish of Stage 3 Saturday. (Photo by Davey Wilson.)

It took race officials a few moments to sort out the massive dash to the line, but eventually they placed the 20-year-old from Portugal behind stage winner Eric Young (Rally Cycling) and ahead of Sebastian Haedo (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team), who edged him out for the win on Friday.

Oliveira said it was hard to be pleased with the result because of all the help he received to contest the high-speed, bunch-sprint finish after 176 kilometers.

“I can’t thank my teammates enough for the job they did,” he said. “They protected me all day. In the last few kilometers, there was chaos and they did everything to help me. The work they did was so helpful to me. I just had to sprint. I think I am sprinting at the right moment and the feelings are good. But I was just a few centimeters short again. I am not sad for me, but sad that I could not give the guys the reward that they deserve.”

While the top 10 of the overall standings remained unchanged, Oliveira’s six-second time bonus for his runner-up result helped him climb three spots to 11th overall, 21 seconds off the lead. Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling) remains the overall leader, three seconds ahead of Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) and Robert Britton (Rally Cycling).

Sunday’s final stage is an 85-minute criterium on a 1.94-kilometer course featuring eight turns and a climb to the finish.

Perfect Teamwork To Position Oliveira
Axeon Hagens Berman Sport Director Jeff Louder said Oliveira – who broke his femur last year and required surgery in December to remove a plate – is quickly making a name for himself in the first USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event of the season.

“This is confirmation that he has the support and the ability against some of the best sprinters on the domestic scene,” Louder said. “Young and Haedo have won a lot of races in America. Rui going head-to-head with them is great for the future.”

As the day’s four-rider breakaway was being reeled in three kilometers from the finish, four of Axeon Hagens Berman’s five riders – three shy of a full compliment due to the team also racing in Europe – went to work setting up Oliveira. Louder said Jonny Brown, U.S. national road and time trial champion Geoffrey Curran, Michael Rice and Chad Young executed the team’s pre-race game plan to perfection.

“We knew it would be a chaotic finish and that we would have to have all hands on deck and commit to making sure Rui and Rice were together,” he said. “Geoffrey did a long pull, Jonny did a big pull and Chad and Rice got Rui to where he needed to be. Collectively, every guy did his job perfectly today.”

Rui Oliveira (left) was runner-up to Eric Young (center) while Friday’s stage winner, Sebastian Haedo, finished third. (Photo by Davey Wilson.)

About Axeon Hagens Berman
The Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team represents the next generation of professional cyclists. Founded in 2009 by former professional cyclist and Olympic bronze medalist Axel Merckx, we are cycling’s premier development program. Through our first eight seasons, we have advanced 21 riders to the WorldTour ranks. Axeon Hagens Berman team and staff work diligently to ensure our program remains the best. Through careful rider selection, instruction and guidance, we annually achieve winning results for a vibrant and original brand that represents the future of the sport. We give future stars their shot to ride against WorldTour teams and prove themselves. #PROVEIT

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