Bissegger second, Pogacar takes overall lead
By Happy Mattis
22.02.2021 | (rsn) – Eight wins in a row: Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) has continued his impressive time trial record in the United Arab Emirates and won the 2nd stage of the UAE Tour on Al Hudayriat Island. The time trial world champion completed the 13-kilometer, flat time trial course at an average speed of 55.9 km / h and prevailed after 13:56 minutes with 14 seconds ahead of the young Swiss Stefan Bissegger (EF Education – Nippo). The 22-year-old had already started the race as the twelfth starter and sat for more than an hour and a half on the hot seat of the fastest driver before Ganna, as expected, replaced him.
“Every race is difficult. It is never easy to be fully focused. Fortunately, my body was ready so that I could get this great result,” said Ganna happily about the victory. “It is special to drive in the middle of the desert. This is my first Abu Dhabi tour. I am very happy to be in such a good mood and I hope to be able to continue like this at Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo. Every time trial is for me a test to get better and better. It was a high-speed race at 55 or 56 kilometers per hour. “
Third place went to three-time U23 time trial world champion Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), 21 seconds behind Ganna. The Dane was three seconds faster than his team mate Tadej Pogacar, who took over the overall lead from Mathieu van der Poel, who was no longer there. Van der Poel’s Team Alpecin – Fenix had left the UAE Tour in the morning because a team member had tested positive for Sars-Cov-2.
Pogacar now in pole position
“We still have five stages with two mountain stages and possibly wind edges again. But now we have the jersey and want to defend it until the end,” said Pogacar after the time trial. “I’m really happy with my performance today. I think the wind was pretty strong at the end, but I did my best and I’m happy.”
Pogacar was six seconds faster than Joao Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in the time trial and is now leading the UAE Tour with a five-second lead over the Portuguese. “I just wanted to drive the best time that I could. Of course, it is better to gain time than to lose in order to get to the mountain with an advantage and to be able to control there. But today we all had to go all out”, so the Slovenian.
Defending champion Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) was as day 34. 58 seconds slower than Ganna and is now fifth overall, 39 seconds behind Pogacar.
Walscheid seventh, Brändle tenth
Max Walscheid (Qhubeka Assos) also presented himself strongly on the very wind-prone Hudayriat Island in the southwest of the city of Abu Dhabi. As the best German, he finished in seventh place, 32 seconds behind Ganna. Austria’s time trial champion Matthias Brändle (Israel Start-Up Nation) finished tenth, 38 seconds behind, while Nikias Arndt (DSM / + 0:48) took 16th place.
For Bora – hansgrohe, Emanuel Buchmann (+ 0:53) and Patrick Konrad (+ 0:57) finished 26th and 29th, both ahead of Yates and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek – Segafredo / + 0:59), who just got there could avoid being overtaken by the Ganna, who started a minute after him.
“Vincenzo is a great champion. To have him in front of me today was a good stimulus”, Ganna admitted that it did not leave him cold to get closer and closer to the Italian cycling hero in the last few meters. “I tried to catch up with him but didn’t quite make it,” he finally grinned.
Tiberi mysteriously falls on the home stretch
The Swiss had overtaken André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), who started one minute before him, and set an impressive best time in 14:10 minutes, then took a seat on the hot seat and watched the rest of the time trial until him eventually Ganna ousted.
The re the 19-year-old Italian Antonio Tiberi (Trek – Segafredo), Junior World Time Trial Champion of Yorkshire 2019, fell for reasons that were initially unexplained and slipped over the finish line, only to be 19th despite the fall, 49 seconds behind compatriot Ganna.