Dylan Groenewegen celebrates on the podium after winning the 5th stage of the UAE Tour.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority Stage reached a gripping conclusion with Dylan Groenewegen sprinting to victory ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Movistar Team) and Sam Bennett (Bora – Hansgrohe).
Groenewegen was moved into position brilliantly by Team Jayco Alula in what proved to be a lightning-fast finish and then timed his sprint to perfection to claim his second victory of the season.
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) meanwhile, extended his lead at the top of the General and Young Rider Classifications by two seconds after taking second place in the second intermediate sprint.
Those bonus seconds means the World Champion now leads Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenaders) by nine seconds in both the General and Young Rider Classifications.
Tim Merlier’s fifth-placed finish meanwhile, saw him take control of the Green (Sprint Classification) Jersey while Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck) defended his Black (Intermediate Sprint) Jersey.
Friday’s action saw the peloton travel 170km from Al Marjan Island and over 50km had been covered before four riders eventually formed the breakaway. That quartet stayed ahead to contest the day’s first intermediate sprint before three escapees dropped back, leaving Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Dstny) to forge on alone until he was ultimately brought back with 21km to go.
At that point several teams were pushing the pace and Plapp temporarily found himself on the wrong side of a big split in the peloton before his teammates brought everything back together on the run in to the destination town. That’s when the sprint trains battled for supremacy and Groenewegen proved the fastest finisher.
Groenewegen said: “There was a bit of wind out there today but not enough to split the peloton. I was a little bit far back in the run in to the sprint but my team-mates found me and we got in a good position with 3km to go. They gave me a very good lead out and this is a nice win. I’m looking forward to doing it again tomorrow now.”
Evenepoel said: “When the split in the bunch occurred in the last 20km, I was well positioned in the front. We knew today would be a bit hectic with the fast run-ins to the corners, and all the roundabouts. A race into a head wind is always hectic. I saw some crazy movements. But as for myself, I rode safely to the line and I’m really happy to extend my lead by two seconds, as every second could ultimately count in the battle for the Red Jersey.”
Green Jersey holder Merlier said: “I wanted to win my second stage today but it was a difficult sprint. I think I rode well but maybe I went a bit too early. I also wanted to take some points in the intermediate sprint, but I heard Remco behind me so I let him take two bonus seconds instead. I will try and go for the stage win again tomorrow, and then from there, we’ll see if I’m in a good position to win the Points Classification overall.”