UAE Tour 2019: Fernando Gaviria of UAE Team Emirates wins Stage 2
Colombian edged out Italy's Elia Viviani of Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal in a thrilling finish under the Big Flag at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater
Fernando Gaviria declared the UAE his “new home” after clinching the 184-kilometre Stage 2 of the UAE Tour in a thrilling finish under the Big Flag at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Monday.
UAE Team Emirates' new Colombian recruit edged out Italy's Elia Viviani of Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal in a bunch finish in a time of 4 hours, 36 minutes and 32 seconds.
Gaviria appeared to have benefited from a lead-out by his teammate Alexander Kristoff, but was forced to start his sprint a long way out with around 200 metres to go.
He had Viviani inhis slipstream but the Colombian was able to hold off his rival speed, beating Viviani by a wheel to take victory on the first road stage of the seven-day race.
“This wins means a lot to me, the team and our sponsors,” Gaviria, racing for UAE Team Emirates for only the second time, said from the podium.
“It was a difficult sprint because of the head wind, but I had good legs, so I could go with 200m and hold off the others.
“My teammates did a really good job, notably in the crosswinds when the peloton split. At the end, I got a perfect lead-out from Kristoff.
“Kristoff is one of the best sprinters in the world and today he did a great job of supporting me along with the rest of the team. It's very important for us to win here as a team.”
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A visibly ecstatic Matar Al Yabhouni, chairman of UAE Team Emirates, said their efforts of trying to build a team capable of competing with the best in the world was paying dividends.
“It’s an excellent result today,” he said. “They are carrying the UAE flag and the name, that’s more than enough for us as the team owners. Thank you for all our supporters.
“The team worked very well together for this stage win and we are very proud of this result.
“Gaviria is a new recruit and a champion. He did a great job and he did it with the support of his teammates.”
With one stage win in the bag Al Yabhouni said he was optimistic of more good results from his team.
“There is a lot left in this race. We are always looking to win. We give 110 per cent in every race,” he said.
“We have done a lot of planning before and after founding the team, and we are still working on strategies to improve the team’s position in the world circuit.”
Slovenia's Primoz Roglic retained the red jersey for the general classification (GC) after finishing in the main bunch.
“It was a typical race here with the crosswinds, but we did well,” the Jumbo-Visma rider said. “I was in the first group and everything came back together.
“We showed our strength but we still have to take it day by day. I’ve never ridden tomorrow's final climb but I'll give everything.”
Igor Boev and Stepan Kuriyanov of Gazprom-Rusvelo, and Sam Brand and Charles Planet of Team Novo Nordisk led as the riders set out from Yas Mall, building a lead of nearly 12 minutes in the first 55km of Stage 2.
Kuriyanov and Planet remained in the lead after Boev and Brand dropped out after 109km. The peloton overtook the breakaway leaders as they passes the Louvre Abu Dhabi with 14km left to the finishing line.
The first intermediate sprint of Al Bahia after 97km was won by Kuriyanov and Planet took the second Intermediate sprint at 142km at Yas Marina Circuit.
Tuesday’s Stage 3 is a 179km route around Al Ain taking in many of the Garden City's faous landmarks including Al Ain Zoo, Al Qattara, Al Hili and Al Ain Oasis before heading up to Green Mubazzarah where the final climb of Jebel Hafeet begins.
Updated: February 25, 2019 09:06 PM