photo credits @ WTFK
Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) emerged victorious in stage 5 of the UAE Tour today, triumphing in a sprint finish ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) in Umm-Al-Quwain to collect his second win of the season.
“It was a hard one, really difficult to get good timing,” Groenewegen said. “We had really late timing but it was a good moment. I was then in the wheel of Sam Bennett, and I went with 250 metres to go which is also long, so it’s a really good win.”
It took 50 kilometers of racing before a small breakaway group containing Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Dstny), Josef Černý (Soudal – Quick-Step), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) and Louis Vervaeke (Soudal – Quick-Step managed to escape the peloton.
From there, the two Soudal Quick Step riders took the lion’s share of intermediate sprint points before falling back to the peloton with Bouchard, leaving De Gendt alone out front with 100 kilometers still remaining.
Teams Jumbo-Visma and Jayco-AlUla shared much of the work at the front of the peloton, drawing for their sprinters Olav Kooij and Dylan Groenewegen, respectively.
The Belgian breakaway champion racked up maximum points and bonus seconds in the next intermediate sprint, while race leader Remco Evenepoel rode out of the peloton to take second-place bonus seconds.
With 17 kilometers to go, breaks in the peloton and crosswinds began below over the desert lined up along the road with some of the main favorites for both the GC and stage being out of position teams like Soudal – Quick-Step, Boars Hansgrohe and Bahrain Victorious started to push hard.
Ineos Grenadiers, who had second place in their ranks ahead of GC’s Luke Plapp, found themselves in the second group and chasing hard but the gap yawned to 25 seconds at one point.
Their pressing finally bore fruit, they pulled the second group back into the lead with 9 kilometers to go.
Alpecin-Deceuninck had the front heading through the final bend in the last kilometer, but Bennett’s Bora-Hansgrohe soon punched through and looked to be in pole position on the left, while Bert Van Lerberghe moved out to launch Merlier for QuickStep on the right.
Groenewegen initially looked to be more inclined to moving right to follow the wheels but then swung over to the left, ignoring his lead-out man Luka Mezgec to bag the wheel of Bennett. He jostled with Gaviria for it and they shared it half-and-half before they both decided to open up with just over 200 meters to go – Groenwegen towards the middle and Gaviria right alongside the barriers.
Groenewegen got out in front and then moved towards the barriers in front of Gaviria, holding his speed all the way to the line.
Evenepoel now leads the race by nine seconds over Plapp and 13 seconds over Bilbao, with another sprint possible on stage 6 before the decisive finale atop Jebel Hafeet on Sunday.
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