Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) claimed his eighth consecutive time trial victory to remain unbeaten in his specialty for a whole year as he won Stage 2 – Abu Dhabi Sports Council Stage – of the UAE Tour ahead of Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) and Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) on Al Hudayriyat Island. Fourth on the day, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) moved into the lead of the General Classification with a 5’’ advantage over João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) ahead of tomorrow’s summit finish on Jebel Hafeet.
1 – Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), 13km in 13’56”, average speed 55.981km/h
The Red Jersey, sponsored by ADNOC (General individual classification by time) – Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
The Green Jersey, sponsored by Etisalat (General individual classification by points) – João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step)
The White Jersey, sponsored by Nakheel (Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1996) – Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), to be worn by Neilson Powless (EF Education – Nippo)
The Black Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Aviation (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) – João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), to be worn by Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck – Quick-Step)
What they said
Stage winner Filippo Ganna said in the press conference: “I am really happy with this result, achieved in this amazing Rainbow Jersey. Every ITT is a different race, it is never easy. Some people think that because I am the World Champion, ITTs are easy for me, but it’s not like this, every new race is a new test. Today I did a good performance, the next time I’ll be doing one will be at Tirreno-Adriatico. Yesterday we had to stop for ‘physiologic needs’ and then the echelons started. Luckily we had Adam [Yates] in the front, we hope he can claim back the Red Jersey that he won last year. The wind will still play an important role in this race, many things can still change. My focus now is to help Adam [Yates], especially before the climbs begin.”
The Red Jersey Tadej Pogačar said: “I knew before the time trial that my shape is good at the moment and in the end, I did a really good time trial and I’m super happy with the result. Having the leader’s jersey is very good for us. We can go into the upcoming stages with confidence. It was pan-flat today but I actually like that a lot. I train on the flat just as much as on the mountains. Sometimes I prefer the mountains but sometimes I also enjoy riding on the flat, especially in time trials, which is a very nice discipline. I really like to race on the TT bike.
“Today, I was more focusing on myself and doing the best time I could than focusing on Joao Almeida’s abilities. It did matter to me though before the start how good he’d do. I knew he’d be good. As for me, I actually didn’t expect anything. I was just riding for myself. I think I’ve just done my best TT – for this short length. It was a really good performance from my perspective.
“Five seconds lead over Almeida is not a lot but it is an advantage. I’m in the defending position and he needs to attack. It’s easier to control than to have to make up time. But there are still five stages left and many things can happen. Tomorrow it’s the hardest mountain-top finish. I hope for the best legs I can have.
It is a bit of an advantage to know Jebel Hafeet well from last year and from our training camps over here but up the hill, it’s a matter of power more than knowledge of every meter of the climb. At the top, the best rider wins. I just want to be first at the top.
I’m pretty familiar with this country. I always get a warm welcome in the UAE. It’s so nice to come back here. Every time I feel more comfortable. For sure, I will come back here often.”
The Green Jersey João Almeida said: “I think I did a good effort today. I can be happy with this. It was short but really hard. I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it’s about the time gap as well and it is a pretty small gap between me and Tadej Pogacar. We’re still very close to each other. I think I’m in a great position before the queen stage although I’ve never climbed Jebel Hafeet before. I actually don’t know these roads. It’s a bit of a disadvantage but I don’t think it’ll make a big difference. It’s not going to be easy for sure. We have a long day’s riding before we reach the climb as well. Let’s hope for the best”.