Second consecutive win for The Wolfpack, who come out on top in the team time trial.
Our squad’s love affair with this year’s UAE Tour continued Tuesday afternoon, when Josef Cerny, Remco Evenepoel, Tim Merlier, Mauro Schmid, Pieter Serry, Bert Van Lerberghe and Louis Vervaeke rode the team time trial of their lives around the Khalifa Port and brought home a second success in the space of just twenty-four hours.
As the last squad to roll down the ramp, Soudal Quick-Step had a good start and immediately found their rhythm, putting together a nice ride in the first part of the 17.3km flat stage against the clock and coming through the split just ten seconds off the pace. In the second half of the out-and-back course, Evenepoel and his teammates moved into a completely different gear, driving it hard and making up time.
With one kilometer to go, it became clear that it would be another tight finish at the UAE Tour for the second day running, and in the end, it was our squad who prevailed by a single second, stopping the clock in 18:17 after averaging an incredible 56.77km/h – a remarkable speed given the two long sections where they had to overcome a strong headwind.
“To do a good team time trial was our goal, but we didn’t dare dream about winning the whole thing. It wasn’t easy today: headwind, tailwind, headwind, tailwind, some tricky corners as well, but we kept our composure and followed our plan. We began speeding up in the headwind and saved some energy in the tailwind, going full gas in the second part of the stage. I did two very long pulls in the final kilometers, and at one point we were riding at over 70km/h. The guys were incredible, they went all out, we kept the pace and didn’t have any fluctuations in our speed. It’s my first TTT win and it feels special, it’s a moment from which we take a lot of confidence”, a beaming Remco said before the podium ceremony.
“We put a lot of energy into preparing this stage and making sure we would do a perfect race, and we are very happy now. The plan was to stay as much as possible together and then make the difference where we wanted to, which worked out well. The boys deserved this win. Now we’ll focus on the race’s first summit finish and on what we can do there”, added Soudal Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck after our 14th victory in a team time trial.
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images