Mezgec gets amongst the sprinters at the UAE Tour

Mon 25 Feb 2019

The sprinters had their day on the second stage of the UAE Tour despite crosswinds causing chaos in the peloton midway through the 184km course from Yas Island to Abu Dhabi Big Flag.

Slovenian Luka Mezgec was the highest placed finisher for Mitchelton-SCOTT as the 30-year-old got amongst the hectic sprint finale to finish 18th on an eventful day in the desert.

Steady Start

With 184kms of flat roads on the menu, the profile of the stage was never going to cause a problem for the peloton, but the threat of potential crosswinds was on everyone’s minds at the start on Yas Island.

A group of four riders quickly headed up the road as soon as the flag dropped and the racing began, with the escapees building up an advantage of over nine minutes inside the first 30km.

Crosswinds Chaos

With 100km still to go, the action picked up as the peloton hit strong winds and a number of teams tried to break the bunch apart as echelons formed. After several attempts, gaps started to appear and the pack was split into the three groups behind the breakaway.

The peloton was spread all over the road as a group containing race leader Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) attempted to forge clear. However, as the race reached the 65km to go marker the pace slowed and a large group was reformed at the head of the race, with all Mitchelton-SCOTT riders present.

Two members of the original break were allowed to go up the road again as the race reset with 60km remaining and Team Jumbo-Visma took up the pace making on the front as the breakaway duo opened up a gap of over five minutes, with a sprint finish on the cards at Abu Dhabi Big Flag.

Sprint Finale

The breakaway was brought back for the second time with 13km to go as the GC teams amassed at the front of the peloton looking to keep their leaders safe. The sprint trains took over as the pack passed by the 3km to go banner and the pace was ramped up with the sprint on the horizon.

Fernando Gaviria (UAE – Team Emirates) was the first rider to open up his sprint and the Colombian held on for the victory. Mezgec was amongst the fast-men inside the final kilometre, finishing inside the top 20 in 18th.

Luka Mezgec:
“We all knew there would be echelons today and me and Sam were in the front group, until a crash happened. I don’t really know how I saved myself from decking it, but I dropped back to the second group with the rest of our team and Sam stayed in the first group.”

“There was no fear about the splits not coming back together because there was still so far to go on the stage and we were chasing along with Sunweb.”

“In the sprints like here it’s really easy to sit in the ‘bubble’ and not have to do your own lead-out train in the wind, but that makes it a greater risk to be blocked, especially with the wide roads and head wind in the last kilometre. But hopefully there will be one day here where I can find a clear run to the line.”

UAE Tour – Stage 2 Results:
1. Fernando Gaviria (UAE – Team Emirates ) 3:36:32
2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick Step) ST
3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) ST
18. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

UAE Tour – General Classification after Stage 1:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:53:21
2. Laurens De Plus(Team Jumbo-Visma) ST
3. Jos Van Emeden (Team Jumbo-Visma) ST
54. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:32

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.