UAE Tour: Final Stage (7)

Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan has won the final stage of the UAE Tour, Pogacar the overall and second for Adam Yates despite a crash with 40km to go

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UAE Tour: Final Stage (7)

Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan has won the final stage of the UAE Tour. The 26-year-old Australian powered to his first victory of the season during a much anticipated bunch sprint in Abu Dhabi. “We came to the UAE Tour to win a stage and today, there was only one more opportunity left. It feels great to eventually achieve that goal during this last day of racing. My last few sprints were quite average, so I felt a fair amount of pressure to perform well today”, begins Caleb Ewan.

The final UAE Tour stage saw echelons forming in the crosswinds and at around sixty kilometres from the line, Caleb Ewan, Tosh Van der Sande and Jasper De Buyst represented Lotto Soudal in quite a large front group, but with Deceuninck-Quick Step rider (3rd overall) in the second group, the chase to bring the two groups together was full gas and after around 10km to go, the race came together.

In the run-up to the bunch kick, Ewan was brought into position by his Lotto Soudal teammates. In the end, Caleb Ewan launched his powerful sprint and took his first win of the season as he beat Sam Bennett and Phil Bauhaus, who came in second and third, respectively.

“The team went above and beyond to deliver me in a good position” explained Caleb. “I entered the final pretty fresh, which was in my opinion crucial to do a good sprint in the end. I wasn’t specifically looking for Bennett’s wheel, instead we tried to focus on ourselves and deliver the best lead-out possible. Roger Kluge maybe went a little too late as we started to get swamped. I had to jump from his wheel quite early as I saw Sam Bennett coming on the right with a fair bit of speed. Luckily, there was some room for me to go there as it was basically the only way out. Once I got past his wheel, I could launch my sprint and finish the job.”

Ewan’s first victory of the season will certainly give him confidence to start the cycling season in Europe. “I haven’t been this far in the season without a win in my whole career, so it definitely is a bit of a relief to start the cycling season in Europe with a win under the belt. I hope this is the beginning of a great year as I have big plans for the season. So, it means a lot to start off with a win”, concludes Caleb Ewan.

There was a crash for Adam Yates who secured second overall despite a hard crash. Yates was able to get back on his bike and finish on the overall podium despite a hard landing. With some cuts and bruises to his face, the Brit was taken to hospital following the race for precautionary checks.

The overall winner was Tadej Pogačar, winner of the Tour de France 2020, who took another significant win at the UAE Tour. The Slovenian of UAE Team Emirates finished 35 seconds ahead of Adam Yates. Pogačar laid the foundations for success with an excellent performance in the time trial on the 2nd stage (4th best time), to then grab the red jersey with the victory on Jebel Hafeet and consolidate it with the 2nd place obtained on top of Jebel Jais on the 5th stage. Pogačar also won the Young rider rankings, while UAE Team Emirates took the team classification.

Tadej Pogačar: “It was not an easy stage, the wind made a difference and it was quite a nervous day. Thanks to the team I managed to stay in the first group. Then there was the crash of Adam Yates. We thought it was best to lower the pace to allow him to rejoin the group. The UAE Tour was the first big goal of the season for the team : I am very happy to have achieved the win in the home race and I am proud of how the team has performed. I would be happy to return to the UAE Tour in 2022 to defend the title I have just won, while as regards the short-term goals, I hope to be able to count on a good condition also in my next race: Strade Bianche”.

Joao Almeida (3rd): “Starting the season on the right foot is always good, something every rider desires. I am really satisfied with the result and the race we did: two stage wins and three guys in the top 10 is great, a top performance of this incredible team to whom I am extremely grateful for all their help and work. To finish third in a race of such calibre is a morale-boosting result, which I will carry into my March races”, Almeida said after burgeoning his reputation as one of the peloton’s up-and-coming stage racers.

Cees Bol (5th on final stage): “We made the plan to wait really long and then make a move towards the last corner with just over one kilometre to go, together with the four guys to try and do the lead out,” explained Bol at the finish. “It was really smooth and it went like the plan we had. I was able to start the sprint in a good position but there were just some guys that were faster. That’s still a bit disappointing of course, but we showed some good teamwork and it’s something to build on for the next race.”

Chris Harper 4th on GC): “I am very happy to end up the week of racing here in fourth overall. The team has been great in helping me to keep my place in the classification while still having very impressive results in the stages. It’s great to end up with a stage win with Jonas and to see David keep the sprinters jersey.”

Andre Greipel: “It was like Russian roulette. It was great to start the sprint from the front,” Greipel said. “I gave it my all,” the sprinter said. “In the end, unfortunately, I got beaten by five others. Sixth place is a decent result. I was simply not able to contest the victory. We progress every time with this team’s leadout. Hopefully we can keep developing, resulting in victories for the future.”

David Dekker (winner of the points jersey) “It was a little bit of everything today. The biggest goal was to keep the green jersey ”, said Dekker after the last stage. “During the cross winds I was in the front group, which was important. After regrouping, I fell, but still managed to win the intermediate sprint and secure the green. We were also able to protect Chris Harper’s fourth place when EF Education-Nippo wanted to challenge for it. It’s really cool to win the green jersey. A week or two ago I couldn’t have imagined that. I am very happy that I have achieved this.”

1. Caleb Ewan Lotto Soudal 03:18:29
2. Sam Bennett Deceuninck-Quick Step
3. Phil Bauhaus Bahrain Victorious
4. Michael Mørkøv Deceuninck-Quick Step
5. Cees Bol Team DSM
6. André Greipel Israel Start-Up Nation
7. Andrea Vendrame AG2R Citroën Team
8. Luka Mezgec Team BikeExchange
9. Riccardo Minali Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
10. Yevgeniy Gidich Astana-Premier Tech

53 Adam Yates INEOS Grenadiers
91 Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers
92 Fred Wright Bahrain Victorious
106 Mark Donovan Team DSM @ 33
116 Alex Dowsett Israel Start-Up Nation @ 56
122 Chris Froome Israel Start-Up Nation @ 03:05
125 Harry Tanfield Qhubeka ASSOS @ 04:48

1. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates 24:00:28
2. Adam Yates INEOS Grenadiers @ 35
3. Joao Almeida Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 01:02
4. Chris Harper Jumbo-Visma @ 01:42
5. Neilson Powless EF Education-NIPPO @ 01:45
6. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen Trek-Segafredo @ 02:37
7. Damiano Caruso Bahrain Victorious @ 02:39
8. Mattia Cattaneo Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 03:53
9. Ruben Fernandez Cofidis @ 04:13
10. Fausto Masnada Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 06:30

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