Soudal Quick-Step led by Remco Evenepoel wins stage 2 team time trial trip to the uaeBeat EF Education First-EasyPost by one second.
The road world champion started and finished his team’s effort on the 17.3km course through Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port, averaging 56.773km/h for an 18-17 finish.
As a result, Evenepoel is now tied for the lead with Ineos Grenadiers’ Luke Plapp, who, wearing the red leader’s jersey, had the better result in Monday’s opening session.
After the game, the Belgian said: “We didn’t expect to be in the EF era. We mainly focus on the other GC guys, Plapp and [Pello] Bilbao, better than them. “
“It was pretty incredible to be able to win this stage and I think we executed our plan perfectly. We wanted to stay together until we got out of the headwind and then some guys really used all of our energy to do the last pull .
He continued: “To win a race by a second is pretty crazy. I think it’s my first TTT win and to do it in this race gives our team back-to-back victories , it’s a perfect start.”
The course for the team time trial is played on wide and straight roads, save for two sharp turns. Race flags fluttered in the breeze, but the wind wasn’t as troublesome as the first stage, which tore the peloton into echelons.
After losing 53 seconds to Evenepoel in a crosswind the day before, Adam Yates and his Emirates Teammates rolled off the start ramp intentionally, setting an early best time of 18-33.
But soon, the home team’s standings began to decline. The EF Education-EasyPost earned a place in the intense ride and could not be overthrown, despite the Ineos Grenadiers’ best effort coming within two seconds.
With the last few teams sailing through the sea of containers at the port, it looked like Team USA might be undefeated. Soudal Quick-Step was 10 seconds behind at the time check, while Bahrain Victorious, one of the favorites for the pre-race stage victory, could only win 8-21.
Then Tim Merrill, in the red jersey, came out from the front to unleash Evenepoel into the final round as Belgium made their way through the red flames. The former Junior World Time Trial Champion pulled hard, as he did in the crosswind of the first stage, dragging his teammate to the finish line and winning by just a second.
The win marked Soudal Quick-Step’s second marginal victory in the competition, having previously Merlier wins first stage in tense photo session.
The peloton will now face the first of two climbing tests on Wednesday, with plans to summit the 20km Jebel Jais summit.
UAE Tour 2023, Stage 2: Team Khalifa Time Trial (17.3km)
1. Soudal Quick-Step, 18-17
2. EF Education First – Easy Post, 1s
3. Ineos Grenadiers, 3s
4. Bahrain victory, 4 seconds
5. Jayco AlUla, 5 seconds
6. DSM Team, 10 seconds
7. Bora-Hansgrohe and 15s
8. UAE Team Emirates, 16
9. Astana Kazakhstan, 17
10. Trek-Segafredo, 19
General classification after the second stage
1. Luke Plapp (Australia) Ineos Grenadiers, 3-35-50
2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, while
3. Nikias Arndt (Germany) Bahrain Victory, 3 seconds
4. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain wins, 4 seconds
5. Mark Cavendish (UK) Astana Qazaqstan, 15
6. Cees Bol (Ned) Astana Qazaqstan, 21
7. Olav Kooij (bottom) Jumbo-Visma, 23
8. Bert van Lerberghe (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, 29
9. Tim Merlier (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, 30s
10. Jarrad Drizners (Australia) Lotto Dstny, 50s