Abu Dhabi: Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde of Movistar Team won the fifth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Sunday to take overall honours in the general classification (GC).
Starting from eighth in the GC coming into this final stage, Valverde went on to finish the 199-km climb around Al Ain and up Jebel Hafeet in four hours 38 minutes and 47 seconds for a final overall time of 16 hours and 11 seconds.
Rain and strong winds had proved testing throughout the day not least when riders passed the 190-km mark to begin their ascent of Jebel Hafeet. As the climb began, the early break-away group were reigned in and with just 2-km to go Valverde made his move to take the stage and with it the GC. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno of Astana Pro Team and Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors finished second and third in the final stage, while Wilco Kelderman of Team Sunweb and Moreno again of Astana, were second and third in the final GC podium. Kelderman was second in the GC on plus 17 seconds and Moreno was third on plus 29.
On the podium, Valverde was awarded with the Golden Grit, the new trophy for the race’s overall winner, and the Red Jersey. This was the fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
“Firstly, I want to thank my team for the great job they have done all week,” said Valverde. “It’s been a complicated day today with the wind and a bit of rain. This is a World Tour victory. I’m very happy with it.”
Elia Viviani of Quick-Step Floors won the Green Jersey for individual points, Astana’s Moreno won the White Jersey for best young rider and Nikolay Trusov of Gazprom-Rusvelo won the Black Jersey for the sprint classification.
Meanwhile, local team UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi and last year’s Abu Dhabi winner Rui Costa both secured top 10 stage finishes and a team double in the GC. The duo finished eighth and ninth respectively in the last stage to finish seventh and eighth respectively in the GC.
The event was an overall success for the team with Alexander Kristoff winning the opening stage in Madinat Zayed.
Ulissi said: “I had a better day. The final climb was really hard as we knew. I haven’t raced since Australia and I only managed a short training camp before Abu Dhabi. Maybe, in comparison to some other riders, I missed some rhythm. But I am quite satisfied, especially to get a top 10 finish in the final stage and in the overall GC.”
Costa added: “We knew it would be a really challenging stage at Jebel Hafeet, but we saw it as an opportunity to benchmark my condition against the other riders. We put in a lot of effort in the first part of the climb, and in the final part we pushed it to the limit to secure a top 10 place. It was great to ride again in Abu Dhabi, see the support of our home fans and we look forward to a long and successful season with the team.”
Results & classification
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) – Movistar Team – 4:38:47
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) – Astana Pro Team – “
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) – Quick-Step Floors – 00:15
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) – UAE Team Emirates – 00:55
9. Rui Costa (Por) – UAE Team Emirates – “
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) – Movistar Team – 16:00:11
2. Wilco Keldermann (Ned) – Team Sunweb – 00:17
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) – Astana Pro Team – 00:29
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) – UAE Team Emirates – 01:18
8. Rui Costa (Por) – UAE Team Emirates – 01:28