The Belgian tops the general classification after the race’s first summit finish.
Remco Evenepoel received the 52nd leader’s jersey of his career after sprinting out of the peloton in the closing meters of the UAE Tour stage 3 and taking runner-up atop Jebel Jais, the 21.1km climb that welcomed the peloton for the fourth time in the last five years.
It was a superb collective effort of the Soudal Quick-Step boys that helped the World Champion take over the race lead, Tim Merlier and Bert Van Lerberghe pulling on the flat behind the breakaway before making way to the likes of Josef Cerny and Louis Vervaeke to control things on the early slopes of the day’s main ascent.
Pieter Serry, despite a mechanical that forced him to chase hard in order to rejoin the bunch, and Mauro Schmid laid down a huge amount of work, turning themselves inside out on the steepest part of Jebel Jais, where the gradient went over 7%, Once the Swiss peeled off the front just before the flamme rouge, Evenepoel carefully calibrated his effort and accelerated with just 200 meters to go for his first podium of the season and a well-deserved red jersey.
By doing this, Remco added the UAE Tour to the impressive list of different stage races he has led since turning pro, which comprises a total of eleven events, including La Vuelta, Itzulia Basque Country, the Tour of Belgium and the Tour de Pologne.
“We came first, first, and now second on the first three stages, and now we have the leader’s jersey, so things are going well for us. This red jersey is a nice reward for the team, who worked incredibly hard today. They took care of me and showed how strong they are both on the flat and on the climb, and I want to thank them for that. The fact that I was the fastest one of the peloton is a good sign and gives me confidence for Sunday’s summit finish”, said Remco at the press conference.
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