How the race finished
Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime) was once again fastest at the finish line in Stage 2 of the UAE Tour ahead of Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) and Clara Copponi (FDJ-Suez).
Full results are available below.
How it happened
Covering 113.5km from Al Mirfa to Madinat Zayed, Stage Two of the UAE Tour was another day for the sprinters. Once again, the question for riders was whether the wind would blow. In Stage One the wind had been strong enough to make for some nervous racing at times, but it was never enough to actually cause splits in the peloton. Today, the race set off with similar conditions forecast, and with teams looking to stay aware and near the front through the key parts of the course, just in case.
The pace was leisurely in the opening kilometres, with riders chatting away in the bunch. No one seemed to be concerned about the threat of wind, and despite the slow pace, no attempts at forming a breakaway were made. Teams seemed to wake up once the 100km to go mark was passed, forming organised trains with a bit more pace, while Movistar hovered at the rear stocking up on bottles.
At the 89 km to go mark, SD Worx-Protime came to the front, stringing the bunch out through a roundabout. Movistar joined them at the front, but the wind wasn’t enough to cause any significant splits. A few kilometres later it was dsm-firmenich Post NL’s turn to cause mischief with Pfeiffer Georgi. Using another roundabout, they strung the bunch out with SD Worx-Protime and UAE Team ADQ riders on their wheels. This time, the bunch split. Around fifteen riders surged clear off the front, including four SD Worx-Protime riders, three from dsm-firmenich Post NL, and others from FJ-Suez, Human Powered Health, and Movistar.
Lidl-Trek, EF Education Cannondale and Canyon//Sram Racing were among those to miss out. Elisa Longo-Borghini took charge in the peloton behind to organise the chase, but the gap extended out to 13 seconds – a long time on the wide, straight roads. By 75 km to go, weaker riders were tailing off the back of the peloton as the chase went full speed. A flat tyre for Lotte Kopecky, saw the impetus go out of the front group, with SD Worx-Protime having less interest in pushing on without their main GC contender present.
By 69 km to go, the peloton had caught the front group, but Kopecky was still caught behind. Once the pace slowed further, she was able to get back into the cars and back to safety. The peloton calmed down a little, with everyone catching their breath ahead of the intermediate sprints.
Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health) picked up maximum points in the first sprint, ahead of Loes Adegeest (FDJ-Suez) who built on the points and bonus seconds she pocketed in Stage 1.
In a repeat of her efforts in Stage 1, at 40km to go, Anna Kuskova (Tashkent City Women PCT) took advantage of a lull in pace, and clipped off the front. Her gap was a modest 12sec, while behind in the peloton, it looked like riders were still taking a breather after the earlier crosswind chaos.
At 37 km remaining, FDJ-Suez lifted the pace on the front of the peloton and brought Kuskova back. The bunch initially stretched out, but no other teams wanted to push on, sitting tight ahead of the second intermediate sprint. This time the bonus seconds were taken by Lotte Kopecky, which could prove important on the decisive mountain stage tomorrow. Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime) and Flora Perkins (Fenix Deceuninck) took the minor positions across the line.
In a cross wind section with 26 km to go, dsm-firmenich Post NL once again strung things out. This time, there was no interest in pushing on from other teams – with the crosswind soon to turn into a strong headwind. Instead, everyone settled in for a bunch sprint.
With 3km to go, most of the strongest sprint squads were still saving energy at the back, leaving it late to move up because of the headwind. The stronger teams were happy to cede control to the likes of Uno-X Mobility and Human Powered Health, who had already set up lead out trains at the front.
A crash a 1km to go saw an EF Education Cannondale rider clip a curb, but luckily no one else went down. It was a wide road to the finish, with sprint lead out trains spread all across it. SD Worx-Protime left things very late to fight their way through the traffic to the front, but Barbara Guarischi and then Kopecky dropped Wiebes off nicely to launch her sprint. Clara Copponi (Lidl-Trek) followed on Wiebes’ wheel, with Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) coming with much more speed from further back. Weibes won with the fast-finishing Consonni in second across the line. A fading Copponi just managed to hold off Georgia Baker (Liv Alula Jayco) for third.
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