UAE Tour (st. 2)
World Champion duly supported by strong Movistar Team -with Lluís Mas as top helper into crosswinds halfway through Monday’s race-, gets safely through difficult first road stage in Abu Dhabi prior to Monday’s Jebel Hafeet climb, where he won in 2018.
Fernando Gaviria (UAD) offered the local sponsor a victory on stage two -the first road, point-to-point effort of the week- in the UAE Tour, 184km around Abu Dhabi. It was not, however, a classic sprint stage, as there was a hectic 30km halfway through the day’s race due to crosswinds in the most exposed zone outside of the city.
The Movistar Team covered perfectly the move created by BOH and LTS, putting Jasha Sütterlin together with Alejandro Valverde at the front of the bunch and then having the World Champion alongside Lluís Mas into a lead move of about 20 riders, which built an advantage exceeding 1′ over the main field.
As the race got back to the city, 70km before the finish, Valverde’s group -which also featured the likes of race leader Roglic (TJV) or Gaviria himself- calmed down and was caught by the big peloton, the race now turning back to the traditional ‘break – chase – sprint’ scenario.
Valverde, very well protected by his six team-mates in the approach to the line, finished into the first half of the bunch to stay 18″ behind the red jersey, and will now focus on the first of three mountain-top finishes in the race: Jebel Hafeet (10.8km at 5.4%), Tuesday. There, Alejandro will try to match his brilliant 2018 performance, when he conquered the GC of the now-defunct Abu Dhabi Tour by winning on its slopes.
Cover picture (c): LaPresse / UAE Tour