UAE Tour 2019: Caleb Ewan wins race to Hatta Dam as Primoz Roglic keeps Red Jersey
Matteo Moschetti of Trek-Segafredo finished two seconds behind Ewan with overall race leader Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma third
Caleb Ewan celebrated his first win in the colours of Lotto-Soudal by taking the 197-kilometre Hatta Dam Stage 4 of the UAE Tour.
The Australian punched his fist in the air in delight after drawing on all his reserves to pass his rivals to win the short but steep climb up to the finish line in what was another thrilling finish on the Middle East's only UCI World Tour race.
Matteo Moschetti of Trek-Segafredo finished two seconds behind Ewan with overall race leader Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma third.
“I knew coming into this stage with all the fast sprinters in this race, today would be my best chance for my first win of the year because of the uphill finish,” Ewan said.
“My team did well protecting me today. It was a pretty tough stage even before the climb. I was where I had to be in the last right hand turn, I started my sprint when I needed to. Luckily I managed to hold on. It's a relief. It's always hard to get the first win of the year. Hopefully there'll be more for the rest of the season.”
Alejandro Valverde, winning of Stage 3, was caught up in a bunch crash 6.8km from the finish line.
The Movistar rider re-mounted and did well to finish eighth but David Gaudu suffered mechanical problems after also being caught up in the crash and crossed the line way down the field. The Groupama-FDJ was eventually awarded the same time by the race jury.
Roglic held on to the Red Jersey for General Classification leader for a fourth day and the Slovenian was quick to thank his Jumbo-Visma teammates.
He said: “It's always better to gain some time in a stage like this than lose some time.
“Once again, I made it thanks to my team who protected me really well before the uphill finish.
“That's how I avoided the crash because I was always at the front. I just heard the noise behind me. It was my first time here. You can watch videos but it's only once you hit this wall that you realise how hard it is.”
The UAE Team Emirates had something to cheer about too as Italian rider Diego Ulissi finished seventh and Irishman Dan Martin maintaining his sixth position in the General Classification.
Ulissi said the team’s plan didn’t work out after Fernando Gaviria, winner of Stage 2, was also caught up in the crash.
“We had planned to work for Gaviria but the crash changed our strategy and I was given permission to go for the sprint,” Ulissi said.
“The final steep section was too short for my characteristics. I was good but I’m not explosive enough for that climb. I entered the last corner in 10th and managed to pass some riders but it wasn’t enough for the win.”
The UAE Tour continues on Thursday with the 181km fifth stage from Flag Island to Khor Fakkan.
Updated: February 27, 2019 06:31 PM