Dubai: The UAE Team Emirates brought some more strong results in cycling with a win and a podium on a perfect Sunday.
Diego Ulissi rode a perfect race to outsprint Peter Sagan on the uphill finish of Stage Two of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, while 2020 Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar claimed a podium finish in the 106th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege late on Sunday.
After an undulating day of racing in Sicily, the Giro d’Italia came down to the final 3.7 kms uphill dash to the finish, with Ulissi breaking free of the peloton a kilometre from the line.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan put in a huge burst to bridge across to Ulissi and Mikkel Honoré of the Deceuninck-QuickStep team. The effort compromised Sagan’s sprint as Ulissi kicked on the final ramp 50 metres from the finish to claim the stage. Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers will continue holding onto the race lead for another day, heading into Monday’s Stage Three.
Shrewd tactics, a great team effort and a perfect finish were the key ingredients that led to success for Ulissi on the 149km stage from Alcamo to Agrigento.
The win marked the seventh personal career victory for Ulissi at the Giro, a success that also earns him the points classification and a tenth place in the general classification as he stays 54 seconds away from leader Ganna.
“I am really happy to get my seventh career victory at the Giro. It is a great personal satisfaction, but also for the team. We got off to a great start in this Corsa Rosa, putting into practice what we planned in the team meeting,” Ulissi later said.
“Bjerg, Gaviria, Richeze all did great work on the flats. Then, on the final climb, I asked Conti to up the pace, to tire out the sprinters. Valerio was perfect and laid the foundations to allow me to play my cards in what was a difficult sprint, especially when Sagan came back,” the Italian added.
Meanwhile, 2020 Tour de France champion Pogacar finished third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege after a dramatic finish saw new world champion Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep demoted from second to fifth place.
Alaphilippe’s relegation meant that Pogacar was promoted from fourth to third and made up the final podium place behind fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic and Team Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi.
“I was in a good position as we came into the line and I said to myself ‘let’s go for the win’. It was a messy sprint and at one point I thought I would crash, but I managed to stay up and finish on the podium,” Pogacar said.
“It was a real pleasure to race here, it’s a beautiful race. Last year was my debut and I finished 18th and learned a lot. To be here one year later in the lead group battling for the victory was a great feeling. In the future I want to come back and fight again,” the 22-year-old added.
Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Results: 1. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) 3:24.58; 2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) s.t.; 3. Mikkel Honorè (Deceuninck-QuickStep) s.t.
General Classification after Stage 2: 1. Philip Ganna (Ineos-Grenadier) 3:40.27; 2. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +22”; 3. Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadier) +23”; 10. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) +54”.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege Results: 1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 5:32.02; 2. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) s.t.; 3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.