There is only one day for the climbers to test their legs at the sprint-heavy UAE Tour Women, and with a tight GC battle, there is all to play for on stage 3’s final ascent atop Jebel Hafeet.
The second stage at the UAE Tour Women saw fewer changes in the general classification than expected, given that the race split apart due to heavy crosswinds right from the start. However, a few key riders lost some time, including FDJ SUEZ teammates Marta Cavalli and Grace Brown.
The peloton raced along the windswept roads from Al Dhafra Castle to Al Mirfa, and eventually, the separations came back together with a headwind in the last 50km.
However, it was a key crosswind stretch in the final ten kilometres that saw a decisive split that caused several riders to lose 31 seconds, with Cavalli and Brown the most prominent victims.
By contrast, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) was always in the front echelon and enjoyed the stage, saying, “I had fun today. With the crosswind and echelons, it turned out to be an exciting stage.
“I always rode in the first positions to avoid surprises. The way the stage went, we could have gained more time. Tomorrow will be the day of truth,” she said.
Longo Borghini is one of the best-placed GC riders ahead of the decisive stage 3, finishing atop the Jebel Hafeet.
She and Liane Lippert (Team DSM) are 13 seconds behind overall leader Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), and Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) is another second further back.
Persico had also been part of the front echelon. She suffered a mechanical with 104km to go, made it back to the front group, but eventually lost contact 74km from the finish.
Fortunately for her, she could join the large chase group where Lippert had been all race, and they returned to the front when the peloton reached the front group with 43km to go.
Most GC contenders had been part of that peloton and stayed out of trouble in the final. 16 seconds behind the leader’s jersey, Simone Boilard (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93), Kristen Faulkner (Team Jayco-AlUla), Soraya Paladin, Élise Chabbey (both Canyon-SRAM), Anna Shackley (Team SD Worx), and Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) all have excellent prospects for a top GC result if they can find their climbing legs on stage 3.
Cavalli and Brown weren’t the only ones to lose time in the final as the group that was dropped in the final crosswind also included Claire Steels (Israel Premier Tech Roland), Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health), Mikayla Harvey (UAE Team…
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