Mezgec sprints to fifth on stage one of the UAE TourSun 23 Feb 2020
Slovenian Luka Mezgec got up for fifth place on the opening stage of the UAE Tour, as the day came down to the expected bunch kick finale.
The 31-year-old was teed up impressively by neo-pro Kaden Groves in the run to the line but was just pipped at the finish by a host of pure sprinters.
It was a routine start to the stage with two riders each from Gazprom - RusVelo and Vini Zabu – KTM going clear to form the breakaway. The quartet opened up a gap of over three minutes before the sprint teams amassed on the front of the peloton and held them at 2’20” for most of the day.
The bunch eventually upped the pace with 40 kilometres to go, taking the advantage of the escapees down to 1’20” in the space of a handful of kilometres. Mitchelton-SCOTT were content to sit at the back of the pack as the sprint teams began to organise themselves.
The breakaway soon halved to two riders as the gap continued to fall before the peloton knocked off the chase, wary of making the catch too early, but it was eventually all back together with 13 kilometres left to race as attentions turned to a sprint finish.
Mitchelton-SCOTT then moved to the head of the pack as they looked to position Mezgec for the finale, while also keeping GC contender Adam Yates safe, with youngster Groves tasked with leading Mezgec to the line.
With no team taking control Groves launched his lead out inside the final kilometre, with Mezgec positioned perfectly on his wheel, but the Slovenian couldn’t hold off the charging pack as Pascal Ackermann sprinted to victory.
“Today is one of the easiest days of the season and then a chaotic final. The team brought me and Kaden into last five kilometres with roundabouts and from then on Kaden was amazing.”
“We were just cruising in the bunch and then Kaden opened up his lead out. Losing his wheel in the last roundabout cost me a better sprint in the end, because I didn’t have a kick in me anymore."
"But amazing job from our neo pro for his first WorldTour race. We definitely have a bright future with him!"
UAE Tour Stage 1 Results:
1. Pascal Ackermann (BORA - hansgrohe) 3:29:19
2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) ST
5. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photo courtesy of UAE Tour.