Team Sunweb competes
Team Sunweb competes during the first stage of the UAE tour in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma will be donning the leader’s red jersey of the new WorldTour race — UAE Tour — after his team clinched the 16km Stage 1 Team Time Trial at the Al Hudayriat Island on Sunday.

Jumbo-Visma set the fastest time of 16 minutes 49 seconds, hitting speeds of 57km/h. The team’s success had a lot to do with the way Tony Martin, Jos van Emden and Roglic negotiated the loop around the island with precision at breakneck speed.

Seven seconds behind on second place was Team Sunweb with a time of 16’56 and that will serve as a huge boost for Tom Dumoulin, one of the firm favourites for the overall classification. World time trial champion Rohan Dennis of Bahrain-Merida stepped up the pace to set the third fastest time of 16’58.

Team Jumbo - Visma
Team Jumbo - Visma celebrate on the podium after winning the first stage of the UAE tour in Abu Dhab on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

“We are very happy to start the season like that with strong riders like Tony Martin, Jos van Emden and Laurens De Plus in the team. Having said that, there is no guarantee for a good performance. You have to show it and we did that. I’m glad that the training we have done is already paying off,” said a beaming Roglic, adding that, he came first through the last corner and sprinted to the finish.

“It’s nice to have the leader’s jersey and we certainly have ambitions to win this race. There are still tough stages coming, so we look at it day by day. The beginning is in any case excellent,” added the Slovenian. UAE Team Emirates wasn’t the favourite going into the TTT but they managed to hit speeds of 55 kmph to set a time of 17’25. The effort has placed them on 13th spot, 36 seconds behind the winners Team Jumbo-Visma.

“This is a really important race for the team, our sponsors and our home fans so we want to do well. The whole team is on a high at the moment and it’s a race that suits me. I’ve been out to recon the climbs already and feel good, but we are going to take it day by day and try to do our best,” said Dan Martin, one of UAE Team Emirates’ lead rider for the General Classification.

The race started with team Gazprom-Rusvelo setting the fastest time of 17’56, but that time was quickly eclipsed by UAE Team Emirates. The host team, comprising of Martin and Fernando Gaviria, also couldn’t enjoy that edge for long as Mitchelton-Scott team came in next four seconds fastest. Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data then fell two seconds outside.

Later, EF Education, who had impressed at the Tour of Colombia by winning the TTT, clocked 17’15 to claim the top spot for a while as both Dimension Data and Bora Hansgrohe fell short of the mark by two seconds. Bahrain-Merida then surged ahead of the rest with a 17-second edge and held on until Jumbo-Visma and Sunweb surpassed it to push them to third.

The 184km second stage of the UAE Tour is for the sprinters and it will start at the Yas Island. The riders then head north to Khalifa Port before racing back along the coastline and finishing near the Abu Dhabi Big Flag at the Corniche. The action starts at starts at 12:10 and the expected finish is around 16:30 local time.