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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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UAE Tour stage two reports

We posted the report from stage winner Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from new GC leader Luke Plapp's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Luke Plapp moved into a slender race lead at the UAE Tour following a strong performance from the INEOS Grenadiers in the stage two team time trial.

New GC leader Luke Plapp.

The Grenadiers clocked a time of 18 minutes and 20 seconds across the Khalifa Port course, finishing just three seconds back on winners Soudal - Quick-Step.

With times extremely tight, the result elevated Plapp into the leader's jersey, level on time with world champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step), thanks to his strong showing and bonus seconds on the opening stage.

Plapp crossed the line alongside Josh Tarling, Elia Viviani and Ben Tulett, with strong early efforts from Ben Swift, Kim Heiduk and Cam Wurf helping to anchor a strong ride. The team got quicker across the course, setting Plapp up well for the coming days, as well as giving Tulett a springboard ahead of climbing tests to come.

Wednesday's stage features a summit finish on Jebel Jais, scene of one of Plapp's breakthrough rides 12 months ago.

Luke Plapp:
"I didn’t realise I was leading until they just announced the results. It was such a close race, with me and Remco now on the same time.

"This is the best discipline in cycling, the team time trial. It’s my favourite and I think people don’t realise how exciting it can be. There’s never big time gaps. It’s awesome to be in this jersey but as a team we’re in a really good spot now.

"The 18 year old (Tarling) is I think the strongest guy in our team here. It’s a pleasure to have Josh in our team, he’s such a big boy. He’s going to be a future Filippo Ganna I think. And Cam (Wurf) is so experienced, he’s been in the pro peloton for so long. He’s really good on a TT bike of course, he spends 180km in a race on it. It’s a great team we’ve got here – it’s a really good balance and I think we’re in a good spot heading into the next few days.

"Tomorrow it’s a mountain-top finish – anything can happen. Then hopefully we have a few easier sprint days and a big showdown on Jebel Hafeet."

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Here’s the report from seventh-place Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Stage two featured a 17.1km flat team time trial with start and finish at Khalifa Port. UAE Team Emirates was the first team to roll off the start ramp, setting a reference time of 18:33. BORA - hansgrohe started the collective race against the clock as the 14th of 20 teams, and at the only intermediate time check at 6.8 km, the team from Raubling was eleven seconds behind EF Education-Easypost's then-best intermediate time, with a time of 7:24. In the second half, the German team was able to push the pace again and achieved a strong seventh place, only 15 seconds in arrears of the winning team Soudal-Quickstep.

Team Bora-hansgrohe riding to seventh place. Photo: Sprint Cycling

From the Finish Line:
"We're very satisfied with seventh place in today's time trial. We went into the stage with high hopes, especially after yesterday's disappointment. Patrick had spent a lot of time on the time trial bike this winter after his injury as preparation for the UAE Tour, while Ryan, who has only recently recovered from illness, was unable to train much before the UAE Tour. But the guys gave it their all. Danny was incredibly strong and I have to say that our two classification riders Ben and Emu were really convincing today. We can be really proud of the team's performance. Of course you always hope to lose a little less time, but we managed to keep our time loss within limits. We're motivated for tomorrow." - Bernhard Eisel, Sports Director

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Eleventh-place Team Jumbo-Visma posted this report:

The UAE Tour team time trial on Tuesday was an enlightening race for Team Jumbo-Visma. Four years ago, the team won the team time trial in the inaugural edition of the stage race, but today the men of sports directors Maarten Wynants and Addy Engels finished eleventh.

On the seventeen kilometre course around Khalifa harbour, Team Jumbo-Visma got off to a slow start. "You could say that with the benefit of hindsight”, Wynants replied. "In the first part, we started a bit too cautiously, but in the second part, we maintained the speed well. Technically it was a good time trial, but we can conclude that we started too slowly.”

Jumbo-Visma riding to eleventh place.

For the team, the team time trial in Abu Dhabi was mainly about gaining experience. "We are here with a relatively young squad, without our specialists. The result may be disappointing for many, but we had anticipated the loss of nineteen seconds”, said Wynants, who saw Michel Hessman playing an important role today.

The 21-year-old German is the team's strongest time trialist at the UAE Tour and led the team. "He took responsibility today. He showed how strong he is with his long turns. Michel is developing well.”

The same can be said for Thomas Gloag, who has just started racing at the highest level. The seven-day stage race in the Middle East is his first WorldTour race. "The team time trial was a good learning experience for Tom, his first with the pros. He was very strong in the Tour of Valencia and even won the young rider classification. Now he can show that tomorrow against the real top riders”, the sports director said.

The longest stage of the week is scheduled for Wednesday. After a long day of cycling through the desert with many altimetres, the peloton will finish on the Jebel Jais, a climb of around twenty kilometres. "It will be a tough day with a tough finish. Sepp has recovered well from his crash in the first stage and is ready for a good result.”

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And here's the UAE Tour report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

A team time trial was on the menu of stage 2 of the UAE Tour on Tuesday, and the Groupama-FDJ cycling team did rather well on the day. Arnaud Démare and his teammates achieved the thirteenth best time over the 17-km course, less than thirty seconds from the winning team, namely Soudal-Quick Step, and a handful of seconds from the top- 10. Michael Storer remains completely in the mix for the general classification, which should get clearer on Wednesday at the top of Jebel Jais.

Team Groupama-FDJ riding to thirteenth place. Getty Sport photo

The day after an opening stage shaken up by the wind and the echelons, it was all about finding back some harmony this Tuesday on the UAE Tour. A team time trial of 17.3 kilometres, quite important for the overall classification, was to be completed by the riders for this second day of racing. “It was a very fast course, designed on a port”, explained Sébastien Joly. “The technical issue of the course was the speed bumps, which were small but very hard. We could avoid them at times, but at other times we were forced to pass over them while easing the shock as much as possible. On the other hand, we could go quite fast on the roundabouts. The wind was rather coming from the front on the way out, and from the back on the way back. It was a course made for specialists.”

The Groupama-FDJ cycling team was expected on the launch pad quite early, at 1:40 p.m. local time. “Everything went well in terms of the organization,” said Sébastien. “The staff did a good work to put the riders in good conditions for a discipline which is still quite technical, and which required a good team spirit because it took place in a completely different part of the world”.

Only UAE Team Emirates started before Sébastien Joly and Jussi Veikkanen’s riders on Tuesday, and they naturally set the first best time in 18’33”. Right after, Groupama-FDJ tried to execute the time trial in the best possible way. “The team spirit was also very, very good among the riders”, said Sébastien. “The goal was to protect Michael as much as possible and he is the only rider we would have waited for in case of an issue. Ignatas was there as road captain and we had good engines with Ignatas, Clément, Arnaud but also with Laurence who was able to do his part despite his crash yesterday. Reuben and Bram did their job early on. The idea was to finish with four riders, that’s what happened. The guys really did a good time trial”.

At the finish, the team eventually stopped the clock in a very decent time of 18’43. It was then necessary to wait for the eighteen remaining teams to finish in order to know the winner, the final ranking and the gaps. “We finished twenty-six seconds behind the winners, Soudal-Quick Step, and around ten seconds behind a team like UAE”, noted Sébastien. “We limited our losses and we put Michael in a good position for a good general classification”.

A first verdict will be established at the top of Jebel Jais (19 km at 5.6%) on Wednesday. “We will already have an idea of how Michael is doing with this summit finish, but he really showed great things in the team time trial today, so we have great confidence in him”, concluded Sébastien.

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