After a day in the crosswinds and before the first summit finish, the UAE Tour featured a thirteen-kilometre individual time trial on Monday. A specialist of this particular effort, Alexys Brunel delivered the best performance for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, netting a nice seventeenth place for his first time trial at WorldTour level. Anthony Roux remains in the top 10 overall as the climbers are expected to show themselves tomorrow at Jebel Hafeet.
Matthieu Ladagnous today was the first rider to leave the launch pad in a very fast thirteen-kilometre time trial on the island of Al Hudayriat. “It was a very flat course, and once you started, you didn’t have to touch the brakes until the finish,” Jussi Veikkanen added. “It wasn’t technical, the big turns could be done with the hands on the extensions. There was a bit of wind throughout the day, but the legs mainly did the talk”. As the first one to tackle the circuit, Matthieu Ladagnous obviously set the first time on the line, in 15’07. However, Stefan Bisseger was the one to remain in the hot seat for a while with a time of 14’10. Later, as a discipline specialist, Alexys Brunel finished just thirty-four seconds away from the best time, placing him just above the virtual top 10. The 22-year-old Frenchman eventually took 17th after all the competitors concluded their time trial. He therefore got his first top 20 in the WorldTour. “Yesterday, he just suffered a craving,” Jussi explained. “In such a nervous race, you must not forget to eat and he got punished for that. Still, he recovered well overnight and managed to do a good time trial today. He stayed very motivated for his favourite event and he could eventually put on a nice performance. It’s reassuring for him.”
“It was already a good test”, Jussi Veikkanen
Eighth in the overall standings this morning, and the last Groupama-FDJ rider to set off, Anthony Roux was also keen to execute a nice time trial. “Like for everyone who was in the first echelon and who gave their all yesterday, there was a bit of fatigue,” Jussi said. “Still, Anthony committed fully and set a decent time. It was not a sensational time but he did limit the damage in the overall standings.” The former French champion actually climbed to seventh place in the ranking that is now dominated by Tadej Pogacar. The yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel was today unable to defend his chances, being forced to leave the race with his entire team due to a case of Covid-19 among his staff. As for Filippo Ganna, he won his eighth consecutive time trial. “For a lot of our riders, it was the first time trial of the year and the first one on the new bikes as well, added Jussi. It was already a good test from that point of view.” Tomorrow, many riders will also face their first summit finish of the season, on Jebel Hafeet. “First there is a big part of the stage to be done in the desert,” Jussi recalled. “Climbers surely want to show themselves, but we shouldn’t forget Anthony’s place in the overall standings either. He knows the climb as he did it two years ago. However, we have to get to the bottom of the final climb without too much damage. Then we’ll see. As today, the legs will decide”.