Dubai: UAE Team Emirates further consolidated their strong start to the rescheduled cycling season with riders Diego Ulissi and Valerio Conti turning up with convincing performances at separate events on Friday.
Ulissi confirmed that he’s back in form with a strong second place on Stage 3 of the Tour of Poland from Wadowice to Bielsko-Biala, while Conti finished tenth on the opening day of the Tour de L’Ain.
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A superb leadout from Brandon McNulty and Rui Costa ensured Ulissi was delivered in prime position for the slight incline sprint but was narrowly denied by the early jump of Team Ineos rider, Richard Carapaz. Ulissi now sits in second position in the general classification, while Costa moves up to seventh signifying a steady build-up for the Abu Dhabi-based team.
Carapaz of Ineos finished the stage in a time of 5:04.54, with Ulissi second and Groupama-FDJ rider Rudy Molard in third.
The 31-year-old Italian Ulissi was pleased with his form. “My condition is good even though we are in the first races after the long lay-off. This is pleasing as it means a lot of good work has been done already and I hope to win soon,” the Italian said.
“It was a nervous stage and it was hard. In this kind of finish, I usually go well and I think I did a really good sprint. Tomorrow [Saturday] is another hard stage, so I hope to recover well and give it another go.”
Saturday will see the riders start from Bukovina Resort and head to Bukowina Tatrzanska over a 152.9km distance in the mountains.
On the opening day at the Tour de L’Ain, Conti settled into 10th in the general classification after the undulating 139km stage was won by Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Andrea Bagioli to take the race leader’s jersey.
Bagioli took the top spot with a Stage time of 3:17.00, while Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic came in second just four seconds adrift and Stefan Bissegger of Switzerland finished in third.
The race continues on Saturday with a mountainous day from Lagnieu to Lélex Monts-Jura over a distance of 140.5km.
Meanwhile, there was good news with the announcement that Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Fabio Jakobsen had been brought out of induced coma two days after being seriously injured in a high-speed crash.
The crash had occurred on the finishing straight of the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne in Katowice, Poland.
Jakobsen was awakened from coma late on Friday by the doctors at the Sosnowiec hospital after undergoing a five-hour maxillofacial surgery on Thursday. The rider was able to move his legs and arms and communicate with the doctors, a sign that immediately ruled out major neurological problems.
However, due to the surgery, speaking and eating will be a challenge in the coming period as the recovery process is expected to be a long and arduous one for the 23-year-old Dutch rider.
Dylan Groenewegen has been suspended by his team for causing the crash.
“Dylan is devastated about what has happened and the, unintentional, severe consequences for others involved in the crash. He feels very sorry,” said the Jumbo-Visma team in a statement.
“Dylan acknowledges that he made an incorrect move by deviating from his line and that he has been correctly disqualified.
“We have decided that Dylan will not start in a race until the judgment of the disciplinary committee to which the UCI (International Cycling Union) has handed over the incident.”