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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Evenepoel wins ‘crazy’ UAE tour, Yates tops

Evenepoel wins ‘crazy’ UAE tour, Yates tops

World and Vuelta a Espana winner Remco Evenepoel started his season with success in the UAE Tour after home stage winner Adam Yates closed out on Sunday.

Leader of the home team, Briton Yates gave it his all, taking on the 10km Jebel Hafeet slope with a steep 6.6 per cent gradient, and later said he had nothing to lose.

Quick-Step’s 23-year-old star driver Evenepoel was initially attracted by the UAE leader’s all-out attacking tactics, but it ended in a clear overall victory.

The Belgian managed to limit the damage on the day, starting the day with a paltry nine seconds of cushion in the general classification and finishing with a wide win of 59 seconds.

“The speed from bottom to top is insane,” Evenepoel said.

“I thought he (Yates) was going to be at the wheel until the last few kilometers, but then he attacked and I had to push my limits,” explained the Giro hopeful this season.

Evenepoel crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind Yates, taking his lead race win since Tuesday’s time trial.

“Seeing him all the time reassures me about the overall win,” Evenepoel said.

– I can barely breathe –

Yates, though exhausted, was happy to have redeemed his team in the absence of Tadej Pogacar, winner of the last two tournaments.

“As you can see, I can barely breathe, I can only talk. It’s 38 degrees outside.

“Honestly, I was sick so thankful to the people who poured water on me from the side of the road.

“I really had to win and thanks again to the team for putting their trust in me,” said Yates, who joined the Emirates from Ineos over the winter break.

Ineos Grenadier’s 22-year-old Australian Luke Plapp was second.

He was sixth on stage, but his finish left Yates just a second ahead of second place on the overall podium.

Geoffrey Bouchard finished third on the 153km final stage.

Belgian champion Tim Merlier, also from Soudal Quick-Step, took the green jersey – winning the points standings for the first time in his career on the World Tour.

“We can be proud of what we’ve achieved this week. We’ve been involved every time,” said Merrill, who replaced Mark Cavendish in the Belgium squad.

Veteran British sprinter Cavendish has forgotten about the UAE tour as he failed to make an impact with new team Astana.


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