On the last stage of the UAE Tour, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team was active at different levels. Ignatas Konovalovas first entered the day’s breakaway and led the race until the last six kilometres. On the final climb to Jebel Hafeet, Michael Storer fought well to take tenth place at the top. The Australian finished twelfth in the general classification won by Remco Evenepoel.
On Sunday, the riders of the UAE Tour still had to complete 153 kilometres, but above all, they had to tackle the final and decisive climb of Jebel Hafeet. In this perspective, the Groupama-FDJ obviously focused on its Australian climber Michael Storer, but some also had the opportunity to hit the front. “We wanted to enter the breakaway on this last day of racing,” confirmed Sébastien Joly. Ignatas Konovalovas eventually took the right move after a few minutes of racing. The Lithuanian took the lead with Jaakko Hänninen (AG2R-Citroën), Maurice Ballerstedt (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Michel Hessmann (Jumbo-Visma) and Sam Welsford (DSM). “It was very fast”, testified Sébastien again. “They rode strong and made a nice gap”. Their lead grew to over six minutes at one point and then the peloton gradually accelerated in the final third of the course. “Kono” kept on going nevertheless with his escape companions and they still had a three-minute margin at the bottom of the climb of Jebel Hafeet (10.7 km at 6.8%).
“Michael put up a good fight”, Sébastien Joly
“It was a great breakaway for Ignatas, and he also did well on the first kilometres of the climb”, added Sébastien. “He did a nice ride with Hessmann and even managed to give Michael a hand when he came back on him”. Within the bunch, the final battle did not take long to occur. From the first slopes, UAE Team Emirates set a very high tempo, which both created damage at the back and hugely reduced the lead of Konovalovas and Hessmann. When the two men were caught by the main favorites six kilometres from the top, the peloton was already broken up, and Michael Storer had just been distanced. The Australian nevertheless managed his effort well to reach the top 1’24 behind winner Adam Yates. “The group worked well on the bottom to position Michael,” said Sébastien. “Then, Michael did a very good climb to enter the top-10 (10th). In the final general classification, that puts him in twelfth position. He put up a good fight and the team was solid around him”. The native of Perth just missed nine seconds to enter the top-10 overall and will now, like all of his colleagues, return to Europe for the rest of the season.