The Australian finished runner-up only three seconds behind Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) on the queen stage of the race, moving to second place overall in the process.
Bradbury herself wasn’t especially surprised about the outcome of the day when Cyclingnews spoke to her at the finish, though. She had led the attacks in the final 2.9km out before Kopecky worked her way back in the last kilometre.
“I wanted to be in the top three, and I’m happy that I could actually do it,” the 21-year-old smiled, happy with an effort that resulted in a career-best placing on a summit finish, one better than on Willunga Hill in January.
The young Australian could easily follow the pace set by Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) and Mavi García (Liv-AlUla-Jayco) in the elite lead group on the climb and then attacked herself, leaving García, Realini, and Kopecky behind and leading the race solo.
“It was more spur of the moment,” Bradbury said about her attack. “I was waiting for some other riders to attack before because I felt I was at my limit at the start of the climb, so I was expecting something to happen, but then nothing happened. I just gave it a crack.”
Only in the final kilometre did Kopecky manage to come back to Bradbury who immediately swung across the road in an attempt to force Kopecky to the front and maybe launch from her rear wheel.
However, it was not to be as the world champion accelerated away in the last 150 metres to win the stage and take over the GC lead from her teammate, Lorena Wiebes.
“I just wanted to get a good run-in to the finish, maybe if she wasn’t quite so strong I could have come to the corner first,” said Bradbury who is now 13 seconds behind Kopecky in the general classification.
Bradbury enjoys a 31-second buffer over García in third place, and the final stage in Abu Dhabi is almost certain to end in a sprint, so barring accidents, the Australian climber should come away from the Middle Eastern race with her best GC result so far.