Team Sky dominated Friday’s uphill finale on the Cat. 2 Alto de Malhao to place Richie Porte in the driver’s seat to have a shot at the overall crown in the Volta ao Algarve.
Porte won the 194.6km hilly stage that saw Team Sky reel in a dangerous breakaway that included Marcus Burghardt (BMC) and Maartin Maaskant (Garmin-Barracuda) and then control the pack to allow Porte to slip clear for the win.
Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome dug deep up the short but steep climb to control attacks from Portuguese riders Rui Costa (Movistar) and Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek).
Porte bolted clear to take the win and slide into the overall lead.
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barricuda) crossed the line seventh at 31 seconds back while Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), second overall last year, didn’t have the kick he was hoping for and crossed the line 20th at 1:02 back.
Defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was hovering close within striking distance, now 10th at 50 seconds back overall.
Machado moves into second overall at 12 seconds back, with Costa third at 14 seconds back. Talansky is now eighth, 48 seconds slower, while Van Garderen is 17th at 1:12 back.
Saturday’s fourth stage will favor a sprint gallop. The race Sunday will be up for grabs in the 25.8km individual time trial. Whether Porte has enough of a head start on reigning world time trial champion Martin remains to be seen.