UAE Tour: First win to Mathieu van der Poel

On a day where the winds blew the race apart, Mathieu van der Poel returned to the road with a victory on stage 1 of the UAE Tour, defending champion Adam Yates the only Brit to make the breakaway that stays away

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UAE Tour: First win to Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) has won Stage 1 of the third edition of the UAE Tour, ahead of David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck – Quick-Step). Van der Poel is now the leader of the GC and has been awarded the Red Jersey and the Green Jersey.

The first stage was one full of nervousness. From the start, the wind played a major role and the peloton was immediately split apart. The attacks started from the off, with several teams splitting the peloton into four groups and kicking off a furious chase from the riders who missed the cut. The tempo relented only after 50 kilometers, when the wind changed direction, allowing the chasers to make it back.

With more than 100 kilometers to go, a new echelon was formed at the front with Deceuninck – Quick-Step having five riders in it. In the space of just 15 kilometres, the gap opened out to more than a minute. As they entered the local circuit with more than two minutes in hand, the leaders fought for bonifications at the second intermediate sprint, and it was again Almeida who came out on top after a perfect lead-out.

Having the numbers in the group allowed Deceuninck – Quick-Step to fire at will, sending Almeida up the road inside ten kilometres to go, before a canny attack of Mattia Cattaneo, who went clear as soon as his teammate was brought back. Tucked over his handlebars, the Italian opened a 15-second gap but the long, straight roads didn’t play into his favour and he was reeled in under the flamme rouge.

Mathieu van der Poel: Speaking seconds after the stage finish, the winner and Red Jersey Mathieu van der Poel said: “I said I was coming here as a lead-out man but today I had good legs from the beginning. I was able to catch the group that went away after the first intermediate sprint and the wind made the race very hard, which played in my favor. I finished it off in the sprint but I didn’t expect this win at all. It means a lot to me to start my road season the same way I finished my cyclo-cross season.”

David Dekker: “The goal was to go for the stage win, but the best was gone after a day of full-on racing”, Dekker said. “The difference on the line with Mathieu was clear, so I can’t be dissatisfied with this second place. In the final it was mainly a matter of getting in and keeping position. Chris and I were a bit too far back in the last two kilometres, but Chris did a good job there with a final effort to get me on Mathieu’s wheel. It was a very tough and fast stage and it immediately broke into echelons. The cooperation in the front group was very good. I think it was mainly because it was a mix of sprinters and GC riders and also because there were teams that were represented with more than two riders. In the last kilometres Deceuninck-QuickStep tried to avoid the sprint, but Chris reacted adequately to counter the attempts a number of times so that I could focus on my sprint.”

Joao Almeida  (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) “It was a good start to the season, really encouraging for the next stages. We knew we were going to have crosswinds all day long and were focused to be at the front and make sure we don’t get caught out. The team did a superb job, putting in a solid effort and giving it their all, for which I am grateful. It’s thanks to them I got those bonifications, which could end up being very important, as the UAE Tour is the kind of race where every second counts. We are content with the way things went today and at the same time we are hoping for more next week”, a confident Almeida said after the Sunday’s 176km stage.

Tadej Pogačar (Home team, UAE Emirates) : “It was a really hard stage with the wind, but in the end our team did a super good job with four guys in the front group. Sadly we missed the stage win but I think we showed that we are strong and up for the fight.We were there at the front and we’ve set ourselves up well for the next few days.“

1. Mathieu van der Poel Alpecin-Fenix 03:45:47
2. David Dekker Youth jersey Jumbo-Visma
3. Michael Mørkøv Deceuninck-Quick Step
4. Emils Liepins Trek-Segafredo
5. Elia Viviani Cofidis
6. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates
7. Anthony Roux Groupama-FDJ
8. Chris Harper Jumbo-Visma @ 03
9. Joao Almeida Sprint jersey Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 03
10. Fausto Masnada Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 03

12. Adam Yates @ 3 secs
33. Harry Tanfield @ 8.29
73. Mark Donovan @ 8.29
84. Chris Froome @ 8.29
122. Fred Wright @ 8.29
123. Alex Dowsett @ 8.29
126. Luke Rowe @ 8.29


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