By Ian Gordon
Geraint Thomas survived an early crash to stay on course to defend his Volta ao Algarve title despite being edged into second place on the race’s first summit battle.
The Cardiff-born racer was beaten by just one second by Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez in the sprint at the top of Alto da Foia.
But Thomas’ display moved him into second place overall just five seconds behind the Spaniard ahead of the third of five stages.
Sanchez used his renowned sprint finish to take the honours at the end of the 119-mile stage stage after attacking with the line in sight.
Thomas, who became the first Brit to win the race last year, went with Sanchez but was just unable to get on equal terms as they crossed the line.
Friday’s third stage is a flat 18-kilometre individual time trial that should see the general classification change again.
Thomas’ big threat is likely to be fellow Brit Alex Dowsett, the Movistar rider who held cycling’s coveted World Hour record for just over a month last year before it was smashed by Sir Bradley Wiggins in London.
Team Sky’s Sports Director Gabriel Rasch said: “G’s in a good position now and will try to take the jersey tomorrow, but Sanchez is a great time triallist, so we know it won’t be easy.
“It’s an 18km course with a technical first 4km. Then we head out onto the coast road and wind could well play a factor there. G’s in good form though and he’s motivated to defend his title.”