Stage 3) Al Qudra Cycle Track - Jebel Hafeet
Stijn Steels enlivens UAE Tour from the break
A scorching hot day and strong headwind awaited the UAE Tour peloton at the start of stage 3, the longest one of this edition, which connected Dubai with Abu Dhabi, where the climbers were given a chance to shine on the Jebel Hafeet, a 10.8km climb averaging 6.6%. Due to the weather, nobody wanted to attack for the first 30 kilometers, and it was only when Stijn Steels instigated a move that three other men joined him and together formed a breakaway.
Racing his first World Tour event with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, the 30-year-old Belgian worked tirelessly so that the group would stay at the front for as much as possible, trading turns with his companions and ensuring a maximum gap of four minutes, a not so easy task considering the difficult weather condition. Their advantage began to come down only inside 50 kilometers to go, when the GC teams joined hands at the head of the bunch and chewed into the advantage, bringing the attackers to heel on the first slopes of Jebel Hafeet.
The climb, which made its sixth appearance in a cycling race, immediately took its toll on the riders, leaving a shattered group in the lead with more than eight kilometers to go. With the heat being such a huge factor, both Mattia Cattaneo and James Knox found it difficult to remain in the main group, from where Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) emerged to take the stage win and the leader’s jersey.
Stage 4 of the UAE Tour will give the sprinters another opportunity, that is if the crosswinds won’t have a say in the final outcome.
Photo credit: ©Justin Setterfield / Getty Images