Groupama-FDJ proved aggressive on stage 6 of the UAE Tour on Friday. Joining the day’s breakaway, Matthieu Ladagnous and Attila Valter tried to prevent the sprinters’ teams from succeeding. However, after 140 kilometers in the lead, the duo got caught and Sam Bennett netted another win. Caught in a crash in the first part of the race, Anthony Roux was forced to abandon but did not suffer any fractures.

The 2021 UAE Tour draws to a close. Two bunch sprints are anticipated in the last two days, and on Friday, 165 flat kilometers were to be covered towards Palm Jumeirah, in Dubai. However, Groupama-FDJ did not intend to remain quiet within the peloton. “Since we had no one to protect for the GC and we had nothing to gain in the sprint, we had free rein today,” said Matthieu Ladagnous. “I was the first to attack and I didn’t expect that I’d be followed by so many guys”. In the lead, the Frenchman reunited with his teammate Attila Valter, as well as Alexey Lutsenko, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-Citröen) and Inigo Elosegui (Movistar). “It was a good thing to have two guys in front, it was a good way to work,” Jussi added. “However, they got only four minutes at best. It was a solid group, with good engines. They went quite hard in the lead and the peloton quickly realized that they shouldn’t be given too much time. Otherwise, the break could go a long way. The peloton did not want to play and the gap therefore remained rather small”.

« We did not hang around », Matthieu Ladagnous

The gap of the leading group then hugely decreased when the Deceuninck-Quick Step tried to split the race apart in the crosswinds. “The peloton got a little excited after 100 kilometers,” said Jussi. “It even split in two groups, but all the main favourites for the sprint and for the GC were in front. So it didn’t do that much damage and it all came together. The only real consequence is that it reduced the gap with the breakaway”. “We lost about two minute”, Matthieu noted. “They came back very close, and it got a lot more difficult from then on. We still rode well, we did not hang around, and it was a pretty difficult day. We knew it was going to be complicated, especially with the headwind in the final, but we tried to do our best”. The six leaders eventually got caught shortly before entering the final twenty kilometers. “It’s a good day,” added Matthieu. “It’s the kind of day that allows you to work well for the rest of the season. We’re lucky as the weather is nice here, and it’s great to ride under the bright sun. It’s a good preparation race. The whole team is feeling well, which bodes well for the future!”

Like Wednesday, Sam Bennett won the bunch sprint while Tadej Pogacar retained his leader’s jersey. However, one rider from the team did not finish the stage. After a crash earlier in the race, Anthony Roux was unable to continue. “It’s a stupid crash,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “After 60 kilometers, we went from a very, very wide road to a narrower one. A traffic island caused the crash and Anthony was caught in it. He got back on his bike, but we followed him for a while and saw that he couldn’t hold the handlebars. He was in pain. We decided to make him stop, then he got into the ambulance to undergo some tests.” Fortunately, the X-rays carried out this afternoon by the former French champion at the hospital did not reveal any fractures. On Saturday, the UAE Tour will end with another sprinters stage.

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