Dubai: Riders from UAE Team Emirates registered classy results in two of Europe’s best races late on Wednesday.
Diego Ulissi was left with regret after finishing in second place behind George Bennett at the Gran Piemonte, while Tadej Pogacar was fifth on the opening day of the Criterium Du Dauphiné in France.
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New Zealand rider Bennett came up with a perfectly timed attack through the Langhe vineyards as he opened a gap on the decisive late climb and descent and then held off the chasers.
Ulissi made a very late charge and closed the gap on Bennett on the climb to the finish line, but Bennett dug deep to win by five metres. Alpecin-Fenix rider Mathieu van der Poel won the sprint for third ahead of a small group of chasers, four seconds behind Bennett.
“When you get this close to winning and you can’t take it, you are left with regret. The team was fantastic, they were close to me in key moments trying to close the gap on Bennett after I tried to fight back on the last climb, having not had the legs to follow the New Zealander,” Ulissi admitted.
“My teammates were great in reducing the gap, then on the last climb I went from very far out to try to bridge across, but I didn’t make it. The condition is good and I hope a victory will come soon.”
Meanwhile, Pogacar put in a strong showing on day one of the Criterium Du Dauphine in France with fifth place over 218.5km from Clermont-Ferrand to Saint-Christo-en-Jarez on a warm afternoon.
It was a double day of success for Jumbo Visma as Wout Van Aert won the opening stage in an uphill sprint to the line in a results sheet dominated by general classification riders.
UAE Team Emirates’ climbing block of riders, Pogacar, Davide Formolo (20th), Jan Polanc (40th) and David De La Cruz (52nd) all finished in the remains of a reduced main peloton, which bodes well for the days ahead.
Pogacar now lies second in the young riders’ classification, just behind Egan Bernal of the Ineos team.
“I suffered a bit due to the heat and humidity, but in the end I had good legs but just maybe not the best position,” Pogacar said.
“There were many contenders to be in the front but that is to be expected with the level of riders here. So I just focused to be in the best position for the sprint. I didn’t get quite in the right position but top-5 was OK.”
Thursday will see the riders go from Vienne to the mountain top finish at Col de Porte covering a distance of 135kms.
1. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) 4:38:32
2. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) Same time|
3. Mathieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) +4s
Criterium Du Dauphine Stage 1
1. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 5:27:42
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) Same time
3. Egan Bernal (Ineos) Same time
5. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) Same time