Alexys Brunel finished the UAE Tour as he started it: racing up front. After he managed to enter the good group in the crosswinds on day one, the young Frenchman broke away on Saturday in the last stage of the race, in Abu Dhabi. Although he could not prevent the expected bunch sprint, won by Caleb Ewan, he did improve his condition like his teammates over the last few days.
The final stage of the UAE Tour 2021 was also the shortest one – a part from the time trial. Less than 150 kilometers were to be covered on Saturday and the day’s outcome seemed obvious once again. “It was more or less the same thing than yesterday, but with Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai as a setting,” said Jussi Veikkanen. Everyone was then expecting a sprint today, but three men still took the lead from the start: two riders from Astana Premier Tech (Matteo Sobrero and Samuele Battisttela) and also Alexys Brunel. “He was motivated to do a nice ride up front,” said Jussi. “They got three minutes at best but we knew what to expect. Moreover, we figured that the bunch could get nervous in an exposed section after the mid-race.” And it did. With about 65 kilometers to go, Ineos started to split the peloton, a group of twenty broke away and soon caught the Groupama-FDJ rider in the lead. “Alexys was caught with 60 kilometers to go but he managed to stay in this first group”, added Jussi. The fight between the leaders and the main bunch continued for 15 kilometers before it all came back together. “Much of the final was headwind, which calmed down everyone,” added Jussi. Alexys Brunel still tried to escape again but it proved unsuccessful.
“Everyone is up and running”, Jussi Veikkanen
“It was still a good day, it went by quickly,” said the young Frenchman. “I wanted to be up front and the team too, so I attacked from kilometre zero. It’s just a shame that the sprinters teams didn’t give us a little more space today, so that we could play a little more”. “Then, there was no second race,” continued Jussi. “In addition, there was a big crash with Yates so the peloton slowed down”. The latter came back in the bunch later one and the sprinters teams started to get ready for the finish. Caleb Ewan eventually claimed the victory, thus closing the 2021 edition of the race, as the overall win went to Tadej Pogacar. “The balance of the week is pretty good for us,” explained Jussi Veikkanen. “Even though we couldn’t do better than Anthony’s seventh place in terms of pure results, the guys showed motivation and commitment every day. There have been some good attempts, the guys have done a good job and everyone is up and running for the future. For some, it was a returning race and we can say that it was done in good conditions here”. “It was a good week,” Alexys said. “I had really good legs and was able to help Anthony as best I could until he had to leave. It’s a great race, and although it can be boring to ride in the desert and on highways at times, it’s great for the preparation.”