UAE Team Emirates Tadej Pogacar in action on Stage 2 of the UAE Tour
UAE Team Emirates Tadej Pogacar in action on Stage 2 of the UAE Tour Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Italy's Filippo Ganna won Monday's 13km individual time trial on the second stage of the UAE Tour as Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar took over the race lead.

Ineos rider Ganna clocked 13min 56sec on the circuit around Al Hudayriyat Island, finishing 14sec clear of Switzerland's Stefan Bissegger with Mikkel Bjerg of Denmark third.

Pogacar was fourth on the day and inherited the leader's red jersey vacated by Mathieu van der Poel following Alpecin-Fenix's decision to withdraw from the race after a member of the team's staff tested positive for Covid-19. Van der Poel won Sunday’s first stage for Alpecin-Fenix in a sprint finish as cycling’s first major race of the season got under way in the UAE.

“Alpecin-Fenix, in agreement with the UAE Tour organiser, have decided to withdraw its team from the race, in order to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race,” the team said in a statement. “The team was notified of one positive result of a member of its staff from the round of tests conducted on Sunday evening, 21st of February. Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating.”

The race was cut short last year by a COVID-19 outbreak among the teams, making it one of the first international sports events to feel the effects of the pandemic. Stringent measures are in place this year to prevent a recurrence, with staff and riders staying in separate hotels.