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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 28, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. - Frank Lloyd Wright

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UAE Tour cancelled after stage five

The organizers posted this notice:

UAE Tour cancellation

UAE Tour stage five team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team:

Race leader Adam Yates consolidated his position at the top of the general classification with a battling third place on stage five of the UAE Tour.

The Brit went close to repeating his stage three victory on the same Jebel Hafeet climb, but the 27-year-old was forced to settle for third after being boxed-in in a three-up sprint for victory.

Tadej Pogacar (left) just wins stage five.

There was a bigger fight than usual to get into the day’s breakaway with the feeling that the peloton may allow a group to stay away. Eventually five riders broke free and quickly opened up an advantage of over six minutes as the bunch eased up.

The day looked set for another routine stage leading into the Jebel Hafeet climb, but some teams had different ideas. A change in direction with around 90 kilometres to go sparked the peloton into panic as numerous teams attempted to split the field as the wind began to blow.

Mitchelton-SCOTT and Yates reacted quickly to the danger, with the Brit pulling through on the front before the pace slowed down and calm was restored. Despite further brief attempts to split the pack from some teams, nothing stuck, with attentions instead turning to the climb.

The break reached the foot of Jebel Hafeet with a gap of two-minutes back to the Mitchelton-SCOTT led peloton and it was then a waiting game amongst the favourites, with everyone anticipating the first attack as the gap to the break started to fall.

Second place overall Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) was the first to make a move with Yates jumping onto the Slovenians wheel instantly. The duo then exchanged a flurry of attacks as the group of favourites swept past the remains of the breakaway.

Yates made a bid for his second win of the week inside the final kilometre, but he was joined once again by Pogacar. The pair then slowed, allowing the chasers to catch them with 500 metres to go, resulting in a three-way sprint for the line with Yates getting boxed out behind Pogacar and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team).

Adam Yates:
“It pretty much went according to plan. I would have loved to win but in the end it is what it is. With the time gaps from stage three I knew I only had to follow the key guys and if I got into trouble then I could limit my loses, but in the end the legs were good and now we still have the leaders jersey heading into the last two stages. All in all, a good day.

“Straight from the start we followed the plan and let a small group go up the road and controlled it from there. It got a little nervous with the wind but the guys looked after me to perfection and delivered me into the bottom of the climb in great position so I could do my thing in the final.”

Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

At 162 kilometres, the fifth day of this year's UAE Tour gave the climbers a second chance to test their legs at Jebel Hafeet. Following a flat first part of the stage on exposed roads with strong crosswinds, the race came down to the last 11 kilometres where the riders had to face an average gradient of 6 percent.

Brought into position by their BORA-hansgrohe teammates, Rafal Majka and Patrick Konrad were the two general classification contenders of the German squad who were aiming for a good result. After an acceleration by Tadej Pogacar and Adam Yates, Patrick lost contact with the first group while Rafał stayed in a good position a few seconds behind, making a courageous effort to keep up with the top riders.

In the end, the Polish climber crossed the line in 10th position and secured his fifth place in the overall ranking. Patrick lost some positions and now sits in 13th overall.

From the Finish Line:
"It’s been a difficult day. My goal was to go for the podium but, unfortunately, I didn’t have the legs. When I realized that I could not keep up with the first riders, I concentrated on not losing too much time and securing my fifth position in the general classification. Generally speaking, I’m happy with my overall performance at the UAE Tour. We’re still very early in the season which makes me confident for the upcoming months. I would also like to thank the team for their support today. The whole stage was very fast and not easy at all due to the crosswinds." – Rafal Majka

"Today’s stage was a very tricky one since the flat stretch until the final climb was dominated by strong crosswinds. Our team did a really good job here and also managed to bring our general classification contenders, Rafal and Patrick, into a good position to begin the final ascent. Unfortunately, both of them did not feel as strong as in the mountain stage two days ago. That’s why we could not make any efforts to launch an attack for the podium. Rafal still managed to limit his time losses and secured his fifth place in the overall ranking." – Enrico Poitschke, Head Sports Director 

And here's the report from James Knox's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

A classic stage that had featured regularly on the former Abu Dhabi Tour, day five of the UAE Tour offered a familiar route around Al Ain taking in many of the symbolic places up to Green Mubazzarah where the final climb of Jebel Hafeet awaited the riders for the second time this week. Just like on the previous stage that visited the 10.8km mountain, we were represented in the break, this time by James Knox, who slipped up the road together with four other riders.

The five showed a lot of determination and built enough of a lead (six minutes) to put some pressure on the peloton, at one point their buffer looking hefty enough to bring hope they could fight for the win. Unfortunately for them, several skirmishes between the GC teams in the crosswinds – although they failed to materialise – reduced that gap to just two minutes at the bottom of Jebel Hafeet.

On the very first slopes, the 24-year-old Brit rose out of the saddle and dropped his breakaway companions, surging ahead and climbing with impressive fluidity on the winding ascent, 48 hours after suffering on the same climb because of the extreme heat. It took a series of powerful attacks from behind for James to be caught with just three kilometers to go by a reduced group, from where Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) took the victory.

Shortly after catching his breath at the finish, where he arrived not far outside the top 10, James took us through the difficult stage 5: “We discussed about what we should do today, especially as we knew we would get some freedom after losing time on the first summit finish. I went into the break, but it wasn’t easy, as we fought hard to keep the bunch behind and the speed was quite high. The climb was relentless, but I gave it a go anyway, and even when the GC guys came across, I tried to stay there, but I was cooked and didn’t have the legs to remain with them anymore. But, overall, it was a nice day.”

NTT Pro Cycling to ride Faun Ardeche Classic & Royal Bernard Drome Classic

Here's the team's update:

This weekend we will be in France for a UCI 1.Pro double header, taking on the Faun Ardeche Classic on Saturday and Royal Bernard Drome Classic on Sunday.

The French classics take place in the respective hilly regions of south-east France and so the punchy type climbers are expected to go head-to-head for top honours.

NTT Pro Cycling will have a few options over the weekend, with a versatile climbing group taking on both races. Carlos Barbero, Roman Kreuziger and Ben King will lead our younger climbing talents of Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Gino Mader and Matteo Sobrero.

Carlo Barbero

Carlos Barbero will be racing in France this weekend for NTT Pro Cycling.

Completing our team will be our newly crowned South African champion, Ryan Gibbons. While the parcours may not suit his abilities perfectly, he will certainly relish the opportunity to show off his new jersey.

What to Watch:
The numerous climbs will certainly provide the platform for many attacks but it could be the inclement weather that separates the the best from the rest. The rain and wind, which has been consistent over the last few weeks in central Europe, is expected to continue through the weekend.

Circus-Wanty Gobert ready for a weekend of Belgian racing

Here's the team's update:

The riders of Circus-Wanty Gobert-Tormans did the recon of the final of the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. They rode 85 kilometer between the cobbles of the Paddestraat and the finishline in Ninove in rainy weather conditions. The line up for Saturday's Omloop het Nieuwsblad is: Aimé De Gendt, Tom Devriendt, Wesley Kreder, Boy and Danny Van Poppel, Pieter Vanspeybrouck and Loïc Vliegen. This selection of seven riders was accompanied by other teammates for their training ride. The riders are confident for the Belgian opening weekend, after a successful first month of competition.

Loic Vliegen

Loic Vliegen (shown at the 2019 Tour de Wallonie) will be racing in Belgium this weekend.

Boy van Poppel: "The team is strong, so I'm looking forward to the Belgian opening weekend. The second passage on the cobbles of the Haaghoek is very often crucial at the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. We'll try to protect my brother Danny as good as possible and with as many riders as possible, in case of a bunch sprint finish. But with Tom Devriendt, Aimé De Gendt and Loïc Vliegen we've got other strong riders!"

Loïc Vliegen: "My winter preparation went very smooth and the result was visible at my first races in Majorca. I immediately had a good feeling and battled for the win on difficult courses which didn't really suit me.  So I feel ready for Omloop het Nieuwsblad. I hope to perform well during the whole classics period and to achieve good results when possible."

Hilaire Van der Schueren: "We did everything we could to be ready for the Belgian opening weekend. I've seen a good team at the preparation races. On sporting level we're stronger than last year. But of course we have to take into account elements which are not under our control, like punctures or the car position. We're motivated to continue our succes from our previous races, both at the Belgian races and at the Faun and Drôme Ardèche Classic."

Sportive direction Omloop het Nieuwsblad:
Steven De Neef
Hilaire Van der Schueren

Line up Omloop het Nieuwsblad:
De Gendt Aimé
Devriendt Tom
Kreder Wesley
Van Poppel Boy
Van Poppel Danny
Vanspeybrouck Pieter
Vliegen Loïc

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