We start as the racing began to kick off, which in these semi-classics is usually around 40km or 1 hour of racing remaining. We were immediately treated to Yorkshireman and World-Tour debutant Tom Pidcock [Ineos-Grenadiers] pulling a monstrously strong turn to rapidly close the gap, solo, from the peloton to the late breakaway. This late break as it usually does in classics, contained all the main protagonists who were the favourites for the win. The escape included, naturally, three Deceuninck-Quickstep riders in the form of the brilliant Julian Alaphilippe, Davide Ballerini, and Zdenek Stybar. Have we already mentioned Tom Pidcock. Continue reading “Omloop Het Nieuwsblad”
Todays’ stage put the riders and their expensive, rapid bikes against the clock. So yeah it was set to be a mundane day on the couch, watching and waiting for one man to roll down the ramp, and indefinitely win. Before we get into the details of the stage the main headline was that Alpecin-Fenix had to withdraw all seven riders from the race. Unfortunately, Mathieu Van Der Poel was forced out of any, far-fetched chance of winning the overall. The reason for their withdrawal was due to a staff member testing positive for Covid-19. A mere 12 months after the UAE tour produced cycling’s first positive cases.
This stage race, in the heart of the middle east is typically one of a boring nature because of the long, arrow straight, flat roads, of course barring Jebel Hafeet. There are also never many people on the side of the road, which makes me think, ideal for covid right. The UAE Tour is a sprinter’s paradise but cruelly a race they cannot win overall, despite winning the majority of the stages. This year’s edition has drawn the interest of many of the top name sprinters like: Sam Bennett [Deceuninck-Quickstep], Caleb Ewan [Lotto-Soudal], Jasper Philipsen [Alpecin-Fenix] and Giacomo Nizzolo [Qhuebeka-Assos]. So definitely a race where we’ll see more fist bumping from the bromance of Bennett and Ewan, whilst also seeing who – out of this extensive list of sprinters – has had the best preparation this winter. Like all the other early season races it will certainly set the scene for the 2021 season, and what we can expect from each rider.