Albasini spends the day in the break on stage six of the UAE Tour

Fri 1 Mar 2019

The final climb on Jebel Jais proved to be decisive on stage six of the UAE Tour as the GC contenders came out to play on the 20km ascent to the finish.

Veteran Michael Albasini spent the majority of the day in the breakaway before being distanced on the slopes of the final climb.

Early Drama

It was a frantic start to the day as a crash in the peloton brought down several riders inside the opening kilometres.

The drama in bunch left groups spread across the road and as the peloton waited for those riders who had gone down to get back on, Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) went solo, building up an advantage of two minutes.

The Australian was left dangling in front of the pack until he was eventually joined by Swiss Albasini and six other riders to form the days break after 40km of racing.

Despite Elia Viviani and Michael Morkov (Deceuninck – Quick Step) dropping back to the peloton, the break opened up a maximum gap of over 9 minutes, and a crash in the bunch with 80km to go saw the pace slow behind.

The Final Ascent 

As the breakaway approached the climb of Jebel Jais, their advantage had been reduced to seven minutes with the GC teams now chasing hard behind. A flurry of attacks out of the peloton on the climb saw the gap shrink further, while Albasini was dropped from the break.

There was just one man remaining from the days escapees when the peloton passed the 3km to go marker. American Brent Bookwalter was keeping Tsgabu Grmay safe in the reduced peloton, but the Ethiopian couldn’t hold the pace of the select group and was dropped inside the final kilometre.

The stage ended in an uphill sprint to the line with overall race leader Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) pipping Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) for the victory.

Brent Bookwalter:
“The start was very chaotic with a big crash that caused some confusion and havoc. We had the idea for some of the guys to try and get in the break if there was interest from some strong teams and Alba did a great job to be heads up and get himself in there during some extremely fast and chaotic opening kilometres.”

“We were hoping the GC teams would let the gap go a little bigger, but we still thought maybe they had a chance to stay away.”

“The final climb was another bizarre desert affair. The pace was quite controlled and moderate for the first 10km and the group was very big. With the wide sweeping corners and a large group it became a game of holding position while still staying out of the wind and conserving energy.”

“The guys did a great job for me and Tsgabu on the approach to the climb and also on the first half of the climb. We had some great intel from Luka who had ridden the climb before. Sam, Jack and Callum all did great to hang on late into the climb and give us a hand with sheltering and positioning.

“Once the pace cranked up, Tsgabu and I tried to stay together but were both a little too far back when guys in front of us started opening gaps. I closed a few of them which also proved to be my undoing in losing contact with the group, but it did help Tsgabu to stay there a little longer.”

UAE Tour – Stage 6 Results:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:15:39
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) ST
3. David Gaudu (Groupama - FDJ) ST
18. Tsgabu Grmay (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:25

UAE Tour – General Classification after Stage 6:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 23:09:38
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +0:31
3. David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) +0:44
18. Brent Bookwalter (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +02:47

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.