Australian Nick Schultz climbed to an impressive sixth place in esteemed company on the Jebel Jais summit finish on the fifth stage of the UAE Tour.
Earlier in the stage young neo-pro Kevin Colleoni made it into the nine-rider breakaway that reached the final climb with a two-minute advantage over the peloton. The Italian dug deep as riders began to drop away and the 21-year-old was finally distanced with 17km remaining.
Meanwhile Schultz bided his time in the thinning bunch, but when the attacks began to roll inside the final two kilometres, he made his move and set about hunting down Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma), who himself was closing in on the lone leader Alexey Lutsenk (Astana – Premier Tech).
However, there was no catching Vingegaard as took the Norwegian took the stage win, while Schultz held on for a creditable sixth place as the general classification contenders raced past him inside the final 100 metres.
“I am really surprised, I wouldn’t expect to be able to do that on such a long climb with the riders that have finished in front and behind me. Also, a bit disappointed as I was close to the to the stage podium, but I guess sixth at the finish line is a good result.
A massive thanks to the guys who were always looking after me all day, making sure I was cool with water and safe. We stayed really relaxed when we were in the back and we had headwind, and when the right time came, they put me in the conditions to give all I had today.
I really have no regrets on today’s performance. I attacked to go after Jonas, maybe I hesitated a bit too much to go after him, but to be honest at that stage I was trying to anticipate the moves that were going to come from Yates and Pogacar because I knew that once they went I wouldn’t be able to follow them probably.
I had a bit of hope as I was coming close to Jonas and Lutsenko, but I wasn’t quite close enough to close the gap with Jonas and the guys, who are probably the best in the world right now, came from behind and passed me before the finish line.
With the two performances on the two climbing stages of this UAE Tour I must be really satisfied, another step in the right direction to keep growing as I never really called myself a climber, but with these two finishes with the level of climbers that are here, I might have to think of the direction I am taking in this sport.”
Andrew Smith (Sports Director):
“We are very glad of the performance of today. Looking at the climbers that are here at the UAE Tour, probably we didn’t even expect that Nick would have been there contesting for the stage. That is really encouraging, and he can take lots of confidence from that as this is a really good start of the season. Finishing sixth must be a really exiting result for him and it is for Team BikeExchange.
We also had Kevin Colleoni in the break, which was really good for him, as it was a really quality group of nine riders that he was in, considering that this was his first WorldTour race of his career. Staying there with those guys for a rookie it isn’t easy and he did a really good job. In general, I am pleased with the performance of the all boys today, we managed all situations in the best way.
Two more days left in this Tour and we will try again to put Kaden and Luka in the best position possible to fight in the sprints. Of course, if the race will end with a final battle, as tomorrow we are expecting lots of wind and this could mix the cards a bit.”
UAE Tour Stage 5 – Results:
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:19:08
2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) +0:03
3. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:03
6. Nick Schultz (Team BikeExchange) +0:06
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.