Abu Dhabi-based cyclist Roisin Thomas covered a gruelling 472 kilometres across the seven emirates of the UAE in 14 hours 43 minutes on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old is the first women to cycle around the seven emirates having completed the challenge in 2016.
Starting at 5am in Abu Dhabi, Thomas cycled through Dubai, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Kahimah and Sharjah, before finishing up in Nad Al Sheba at 2am on Thursday morning.
From intense heat on the Old Hatta Road to some rain in Fujairah, the cycle across the seven emirates offered everything for Thomas and her strong team of four riders.
“It was fantastic. I’m really happy with the response and support we’ve had. The camaraderie among the group was brilliant and it was really enjoyable all the way through,” Thomas told Sport360.
“We were always ahead of schedule. At 12 when the sun was at its highest point, we were on the Old Hatta Road. We had to make one unplanned trip under a tunnel to get shade because it was really hot.”
In Dibba Al Fujairah, a surprise visitor joined the group in UAE national champion Abdullah Al Falasi, who was out training at the same time.
One of the highlights of the journey for Thomas was the beautiful scenery on the stretch from Dibba Al Fujairah to Umm Al Quwain.
“You are climbing and then when you reach the top you can see the sun setting over the bay. It was really perfect,” added Thomas.
Of course, the most special feeling of the day was when they edged closer to the finish line at Nad Al Sheba after over 14 hours on the bike.
“When everyone saw the Meydan Road come into view, that feeling was really special. I like the feeling of everyone around you feeling positive. That feeling of ‘we did it, and we are all fit and well and still smiling’,” she said.
The other riders supporting Roisin were Raslan Abbadi of Jordan, Ahmed Al Haj of UAE, Andrew Laity of England and Rener Kabayan of the Philippines.
Thomas’ attention now turns to the National Championships in Ireland in June and the UCI World Championships in France in August.
Silvan Dillier was in disbelief after bouncing back from a puncture to cap a 200km breakaway with the biggest win of his career in a thrilling Giro d’Italia sixth stage on Thursday.
BMC’s Dillier suffered a flat tyre in the opening metres of an undulating 217km ride from Reggio di Calabria to Terme Luigiane, the first first stage of the 100th Giro edition held on the Italian mainland.
But, with a stage win on his mind, the 26-year-old Swiss chased back on, fought to help a five-man breakaway escape the peloton and, in a thrilling duel with Jasper Stuyven, prevailed in the drive to an uphill finish line that proved slightly too steep for the Belgian.
Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels retained the race leader’s pink jersey after finishing eighth, 39secs behind the frontrunners, to maintain his six-second lead on Sky’s Geraint Thomas.
It meant plenty of stage victory hopefuls were left disappointed after a routine day in the saddle turned into a desperate chase.
Dillier, Stuyven, Trek teammate Mads Pedersen, Austrian Lukas Postlberger and Italian Simone Andreetta raced to a lead of nearly nine minutes at one stage.
That was cut to five and a half minutes with 100km to race but a lack of collaboration in the chase meant the frontrunners were still nearly three minutes in front 10km from the finish.
As they headed for a technical finish featuring a series of small climbs, descents and tight hairpin bends, Pedersen peeled off, his legs no longer able to maintain the unrelenting pace.
But Stuyven, who claimed his maiden Grand Tour stage win at the Vuelta a Espana last year, remained defiant, launching an attack nearly six kilometres out that proved fatal to Andreetta’s bid to hand Italy their maiden win of the 100th edition.
Stuyven and Dillier then dropped Postlberger in the final 300 metres, but the Belgian was left agonisingly short as Dillier proved strongest to the line.
Postlberger, who claimed victory in the opening stage in Olbia, Sardinia with an audacious attack that stunned the peloton in the final kilometre, said: “I wanted to attack in the uphill section, but after 200 kilometres of a breakaway, I didn’t know how my legs would be.”
At 224km, Friday’s seventh stage from Castrovillari to Alberobello is the longest of the race.
Colombian Fernando Gaviria claimed his second victory of the Giro d’Italia as stage five ended in a sprint finish at Messina, where Quick-Step Floors team-mate Bob Jungels retained the overall race leader’s pink jersey.
After Tuesday’s eventful run surrounding Mount Etna, which saw a big crash as well as the expulsion of Bahrain-Merida rider Javier Moreno for pushing Team Sky’s Diego Rosa, the 159 kilometre course starting at Pedara passed without major incident as the sprinters took centre stage.
Russian Evgeny Shalunev, of Gazprom-Rusvelo, and Poland’s CCC Sprandi rider Maciej Paterski set off on an early breakaway, but were always likely to be reeled in over the flat second part of the race along Sicily’s coastline.
As the peleton weaved its way around two circuits of Merida, the home town of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, Bahrain-Merida rider Luka Pibernik celebrated what he thought was victory over the line, only to suddenly realise there was still a lap to go.
Quick-Step Floors played the expected bunch finish to perfection as Gaviria came off the wheel of Irish rider Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) with 300 metres left to cross ahead of a fast-finishing Jakub Mareczko of Wilier-Selle Italia.
Luxembourg racer Jungels keeps the Maglia Rosa as general classification leader, six seconds ahead of Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas and 10 ahead of Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Nibali.
Shalunev and Paterski had earlier worked hard over the first part of the stage, which saw the gap on the peleton up to three-and-a-half minutes heading into the more flat final 50km.
The pair, though, were slowly clawed back in by the peleton, with Bahrain-Merida among those leading the drive as they protected Nibali, while Team Sky pushed Thomas along to help cut the advantage down to 53 seconds with 20kms to go.
It was only a matter of time before the fast-paced peleton absorbed the breakaway duo, who sat up as the race headed down into Messina for the final 14.5kms.