South African Darren Lill secured the King of the Mountains leader’s jersey on Stage 2 of the Volta a Alentejo tour in Portugal on Friday.

Riding for Team Bonitas, Lill sprinted to second place over the only King of the Mountains prime on the relatively flat stage. His main rival in the competition, Portugal’s Jose Mendez (LA/Antarte), was third over the summit, giving Lill the outright lead in the climber’s competition, after the pair shared it on Thursday.

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Darren Lill (behind the Yellow Jersey) bides his time in the peloton on a day in which he secured the King of the Mountains category leadership.

Photo courtesy: Volta a Alentejo

But Lill only has a lead of one point over Mendez, with Russian Sergey Belykh (Locosphinx) three points behind the South African. With no mountains points on offer on Saturday’s third stage, Lill will retain the leader’s jersey at least until Sunday’s final stage.

Friday’s 191.3km stage from Portel to Santiago do Cacém finished in a bunch sprint with Russian sprinter Alexey Kunshin (Locosphinx) grabbing the win and taking the overall lead in the process.

Hanco Kachelhoffer (Team Bonitas) was again the first South African home on Friday, finishing safely in the large lead bunch. He is one of 14 riders sitting 11 seconds off the race lead going into Saturday’s penultimate stage, another relatively flat haul over 168.6km from Odemira to Ourique.

Earlier on Friday’s stage, Team Bonitas’ Luthando Kaka and Jason Bakke were each involved in small breakaways, which were brought back. Lill tried to bridge to a five rider break later in the stage, but the field saw that as a dangerous move and reeled in Lill and the breakaway group.

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Darren Lill receives the King of the Mountains leader's jersey.

Photo courtesy: Volta a Alentejo

“We'll take it steady on Stage 3 and if an opportunity presents itself we will take it, but we’re not going hunting for it,” said Bonitas team manager, Barry Austin. “There is total control by the two top teams from Portugal, so a move up on General Classification will be hard.

“Our main objective will be to keep the King of the Mountains jersey on Stage 4, the final stage. Chasing too many goals may easily cause you to lose the one you have achieved. That being said, we will be wide awake for any ‘gifts’ that come our way.”

“The aim today was to get Darren into the King of the Mountain’s lead and the guys achieved that. I’m very pleased with that,” said Malcolm Lange, owner of Team Bonitas. “They’re riding positively and are showing some good form among some really strong teams. It’s great to see our European campaign starting on such a good note.”