Evenepoel wins ‘insane’ UAE Tour as Yates sizzles to summit win
World and Vuelta a España champion Remco Evenepoel started his season with success in the Tour of the United Arab Emirates after finishing home stage winner Adam Yates at the finish line on Sunday.
As leader of the home team, British rider Yates went the extra mile by attacking the Jebel Hafeet 10km climb with its demanding 6.6 percent grade, and later said he had nothing to lose.
The 23-year-old Quick-Step star rider Evenepoel was initially caught up in the UAE team leader’s tactics, but eventually persevered for a clear overall victory.
The Belgian managed to limit the damage, starting the day with a narrow lead of nine seconds overall and ending it with a big win in 59 seconds.
“The pace was insane from the bottom up,” Evenepoel said.
“I thought he (Yates) would stay with me until the last kilometers, but then he attacked and I had to exceed my limit,” explained the man who was to win the Giro this season.
Evenepoel crossed the line 10 seconds behind Yates to take the race win, leading after Tuesday’s time trial.
“Constantly watching him convinced me of the overall victory,” Evenepul said.
– I can hardly breathe –
Yates was exhausted but glad to have saved his team in the absence of Tadej Pogacar, winner of the last two tournaments here.
“As you can see, I can hardly breathe and I can hardly speak. It’s 38 degrees outside.
“Honestly, I felt sick, so thanks to the people who poured water on me from the side of the road.
“I really should have won, thanks again to the team for trusting me,” said Yates, who joined the UAE from Ineos during the winter break.
22-year-old Australian Ineos Grenadier rider Luke Plapp finished second overall.
He placed sixth on the stage, but his result only knocked Yeats out of second place overall by one second.
Geoffrey Bouchard finished third in the 153 km final.
Belgian champion Tim Merlier, also from Soudal Quick-Step, took home the green jersey as he won the points classification in a World Tour race for the first time in his career.
“We can be proud of what we have achieved this week. Every time we were on top,” said Merlier, who replaced Mark Cavendish in the Belgian team.
Veteran British sprinter Cavendish forgot about the UAE tour as he failed to impress with the new Astana team.