stage 2

A smooth team time trial

A team time trial was on the menu of stage 2 of the UAE Tour on Tuesday, and the Groupama-FDJ cycling team did rather well on the day. Arnaud Démare and his teammates achieved the thirteenth best time over the 17-km course, less than thirty seconds from the winning team, namely Soudal-Quick Step, and a handful of seconds from the top- 10. Michael Storer remains completely in the mix for the general classification, which should get clearer on Wednesday at the top of Jebel Jais.

The day after an opening stage shaken up by the wind and the echelons, it was all about finding back some harmony this Tuesday on the UAE Tour. A team time trial of 17.3 kilometres, quite important for the overall classification, was to be completed by the riders for this second day of racing. “It was a very fast course, designed on a port”, explained Sébastien Joly. “The technical issue of the course was the speed bumps, which were small but very hard. We could avoid them at times, but at other times we were forced to pass over them while easing the shock as much as possible. On the other hand, we could go quite fast on the roundabouts. The wind was rather coming from the front on the way out, and from the back on the way back. It was a course made for specialists.” The Groupama-FDJ cycling team was expected on the launch pad quite early, at 1:40 p.m. local time. “Everything went well in terms of the organization,” said Sébastien. “The staff did a good work to put the riders in good conditions for a discipline which is still quite technical, and which required a good team spirit because it took place in a completely different part of the world”.

“The goal was to protect Michael”, Sébastien Joly

Only UAE Team Emirates started before Sébastien Joly and Jussi Veikkanen’s riders on Tuesday, and they naturally set the first best time in 18’33”. Right after, Groupama-FDJ tried to execute the time trial in the best possible way. “The team spirit was also very, very good among the riders”, said Sébastien. “The goal was to protect Michael as much as possible and he is the only rider we would have waited for in case of an issue. Ignatas was there as road captain and we had good engines with Ignatas, Clément, Arnaud but also with Laurence who was able to do his part despite his crash yesterday. Reuben and Bram did their job early on. The idea was to finish with four riders, that’s what happened. The guys really did a good time trial”. At the finish, the team eventually stopped the clock in a very decent time of 18’43. It was then necessary to wait for the eighteen remaining teams to finish in order to know the winner, the final ranking and the gaps. “We finished twenty-six seconds behind the winners, Soudal-Quick Step, and around ten seconds behind a team like UAE”, noted Sébastien. “We limited our losses and we put Michael in a good position for a good general classification”.

A first verdict will be established at the top of Jebel Jais (19 km at 5.6%) on Wednesday. “We will already have an idea of how Michael is doing with this summit finish, but he really showed great things in the team time trial today, so we have great confidence in him”, concluded Sébastien.

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