- - UAE Tour 2024 Stage 7

UAE Tour 2024 Stage 7

photo credits @ UAE Tour

Lennert Van Eetvelt produced a dramatic summit finish on Jebel Hafeet to claim the final stage and overall victory in the UAE Tour today.

The 22-year-old Lotto rider powered clear around two kilometres from the line to take the 161km seventh stage by 22 seconds from Pello Bilbao and Ben O’Connor.

With a 10sec time bonus Van Eetvelt shot to the top of the overall standings, two seconds ahead of

With 1.7km to go and leader on the road O’Connor starting to suffer and fixate on Bilbao. A late chase from the remnants of the front group failed to make an impression with Van Eetvelt taking the win, and the bonus seconds to take a well-deserved but surprising win.

“Unbelievable, I cannot be believe it. This morning everyone was telling me just go for everything, try to win GC, you can do it and I was like ‘come on guys we have to stay realistic. I’m still far behind, a lot of the world’s best guys are still there’. But this was the plan, this was what I had in my head and I cannot believe that I pulled it off,” the stage and GC winner said at the finish.

O’Connor’s compatriot, UAE Team Emirates’ Jay Vine began the day in the lead but his hopes bit the dust in the closing climb.

“I was expecting a difficult stage,” Van Eetvelt said, adding that he had been able to stay on the wheels of the leaders.

“Then when we began the climb I told myself I had to give my all.

“I couldn’t be happier,” beamed the rider who was adding this to a race win in Mallorca last month.

Race Highlights

The early break was formed by veteran Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) alongside Jonas Rickaert and Silvan Dillier (Alpecin – Deceuninck), and Mark Stewart (Team Corratec – Vini Fantini).

The quartet built up an extension of close to nine minutes before the GC teams began to chase but several sections of crosswinds saw the gap drastically tumble to a more manageable four minutes inside the final 50km. 

At one point Bilbao and several other GC riders found themselves in a second chasing group after one particularly strenuous crosswind section but with 37km to go the main field regrouped. Out front, the leaders ploughed on but with the final climb approaching their advantage dipped to within two minutes with 20km to go.

At one point, the break’s lead had begun to evaporate, though Buchmann, the last man standing, held a buffer of one minute over the bunch for the first half of the ascent. With 9km to race, however, came the first surprise when McNulty was jettisoned out the back of the reduced peloton.

Shortly afterwards, the red jersey himself began to drift towards the rear of the group of favourites, and Jay Vine, so impressive earlier in the week, was distanced with 7km still to race.

That placed the burden of responsibility on O’Connor and his Decathlon-AG2R team, and the Australian, pedalling fluidly, looked well capable of managing the situation. Ultimately, however, the flurry of attacks near the summit – not to mention Van Eetvelt’s obvious strength – made the situation a complicated one.

Bilbao sparked the attacking with a rasping effort with 4.4km to go, with O’Connor careful to follow, and the Basque repeated his effort half a kilometre later. O’Connor was again quick to respond, but he no longer had any teammates on hand to help police an increasingly unruly front group.

Carlos Verona (Lidl-Trek) and Max Poole (DSM) also got in on the attacking after Buchmann was swept up, while Bilbao made another couple of nudges, with O’Connor always ready to mark his move

Several more attacks followed with Carlos Verona making two digs before Bilbao went for a third time on the steepest section with 2.8km to go. O’Connor was slow to respond this time and wisely waited for the climb to ease before catching his main rival but with 2.1km remaining Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal Quick-Step), Michael Storer (Tudor Pro Cycling), and Van Eetvelt jumped clear. Just when it looked as though the race was still in the balance Van Eetvelt kicked again and soared away with 1.7km to go.

Storer, O’Connor and Bilbao all took turns leading the chase but there was no denying Van Eetvelt the biggest victory of his young career.

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