History repeats itself for David Gaudu. In the second summit finish at Jebel Hafeet this week, the Frenchman again took fourth place, securing therefore this same position in the general classification with two stages to go in the UAE Tour. However, unlike Tuesday, the 23-year-old climber was able to aim for stage victory until the very end because of a more tactical race. He eventually came short with 100 meters to go, in a sprint won by Tadej Pogacar.
“Our riders tried to shake up the GC” Sébastien Joly
Like in the third stage, there was quite an easy and flat run-in before the final climb of Jebel Hafeet today. The riders had however 20 kilometers less to cover before reaching the bottom of the climb and five riders joined the breakaway to try their chance: Larry Warbasse (AG2R-La Mondiale), James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom -Rusvelo), Andrea Garosio (Vini Zabù-KTM). The bunch took it easy at first and the leaders could enjoy a 7 minutes gap. On the other hand, the bunch got nervous on several occasions because of the potential echelons.
“The wind was a little stronger than the previous days,” said Sébastien Joly. “There were also several strategic locations along the way. Our riders were really very focused and united around David to try to turn things around. They seized every opportunity 100% to try to shake up the general classification, but the wind was eventually not strong enough. On top of that, the fact that the roads were very wide and the roadsides clean enough allowed most of the riders to be safe. In the end, there was certainly some tension but the race never really split apart. It did not do the expected damage but it still tired a lot of guys and allowed us to get to the bottom of the last climb in good conditions.”
“When you give everything you have, you cannot have regrets” David Gaudu
The breakaway led by Knox then started the last climb 1’30 ahead of the peloton, where UAE Team Emirates started to pull for Tadej Pogacar. “Like on Tuesday, the team perfectly positioned David at the beginning of the climb,” said Sébastien. “Then, it was different race than on stage 3. We had a nice fight between the leaders. There was a high pace but there was no big attack from Yates, things went more naturally. Near the summit, the best four got together and David came short in the last few hundred meters”. “I gave my all, said the French climber, fourth on the line. In the sprint, I was dead, I had nothing left. But when you give everything like I did, you can’t have any regrets. We are satisfied with how the day went. We were able to put things together like we said at the briefing, we tried to shake things up several times even if it did not work out.”
Beaten by Tadej Pogacar, Alexey Lutsenko and Adam Yates, the rider from Brittany now is 1’48 away from the Briton overall leader, and fifteen seconds behind the Kazakh’s third place. “Even if we can hope for some things to happen with the wind tomorrow, it might still be quite complicated for the final podium,” added Sébastien. “Especially since we’re obviously going to focus on the sprint in addition to protecting David”. “I have a Classics’ team with me,” concluded David, “so I’m not afraid of the wind! And if we have the opportunity to do nice things tomorrow, we will obviously try. ”