UAE Tour 2019: Primoz Roglic and Jumbo-Visma off to a flying start in Abu Dhabi
Dutch team come out on top in opening time trial stage as UAE Team Emirates finish 13th
It was the Dutch team Jumbo-Visma who laid claim to making history on Sunday as they won the inaugural stage of the UAE Tour.
They came out on top on Sunday's opening stage, a 16km time trial around Al Hudayriat Island in Abu Dhabi, to allow their team members to stand on the top step of the podium with medals around their neck.
The added bonus is that the team's Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic will start Monday's Stage 2, again based around Abu Dhabi, in possession of the red shirt for leader of the general classification (GC).
Roglic acknowledged he and his teammates had gone into the event optimistic they could push for victory on the stage, but had never allowed themselves to be too confident.
“It was a very fast time trial and of course we're very happy to start the season with this performance,” Roglic said.
“We came here with strong time trialists. We didn't really decide that I'd cross the line first but I took a strong turn at the end.
“We are very happy to start the season like that with strong riders like Tony Martin, Jos van Emden and Laurens de Plus in the team. Having said that there is no guarantee for a good performance."
Jumbo-Visma clocked a time of 16 minutes, 49 seconds to be quickest around the route, and Roglic admitted he and his teammates endured a few tense moments as they were forced to watch on as other teams still out on the course tried to beat their time, with Sunweb only seven seconds off them as they had to settle for second.
"Sunweb was very close so we were quite nervous waiting for them to cross the line," he said.
As to being the first holder of the red jersey in the race's history, Roglic was proud of the achievement and said he did hold aspirations of still being in possession of it when the race concludes on Saturday in Dubai.
“It's nice to have the leader's jersey and we certainly have ambitions to win this race," he said. There are still tough stages coming, so we look at it day by day. The beginning is in any case excellent.”
It was double delight for Jumbo-Visma as they also have the white jersey holder in the ranks too in the shape of Laurens De Plus.
That shirt signifies the best performing young rider in the race and the 23-year-old Belgian said the strong start was the reward for hard work by the team.
"We trained for this race all together in January," he said. "It was hard to come straight from altitude training to the UAE Tour but it worked out very well.
"We had a super strong and well balanced team. At the end, Tony Martin did a very long pull and Tom Leezer rode the best kilometre of his life. I'm the best young rider for now but our priority is to win the GC with Primoz."
Bahrain-Merida were the third best team in the time trial, eight seconds off the pace of Jumbo-Visma, with Team Sky and the Movistar Team completing the top five.
UAE Team Emirates were 13th overall and Dan Martin reiterated his determination to bring some home success to the race for his team.
"It’s a race that suits me," the Irishman said. "I’ve been out to recon the climbs already and feel good, but we are going to take it day by day and try to do our best.”
Today’s 184km sprint stage starts at the Yas Island and finishes at the Big Flag at the Breakwater.
Updated: February 25, 2019 07:28 PM