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Lucas Plapp of Ineos Grenadiers team celebrates on the podium after being awarded the red jersey on the second stage of the UAE cycling tour, in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: World champion Remco Evenepoel had another good day at the UAE Tour Tuesday as his Soudal-Quick-Step team won a 17.3km team time-trial round the port of Khalifa.

The collective win puts the Belgian rider level top of the overall standings with Ineos Grenadiers’ Luke Plapp after two of the seven stages.

Both riders were part of a masterful breakaway in a blustery cross wind on Monday when a clutch of riders made it home 51sec ahead of Team UAE leader Adam Yates.

With teams setting off round the sunny, deserted port at two-minute intervals, finish times were taken once five of them had crossed the line.

Evenepoel’s outfit eventually abandoned the sprinter Tim Merlier who won Monday’s opening stage, so he let slip the overall leader’s red jersey to Plapp.

Last pull

“We wanted to stay all together until we came out of the headwind and then some guys used all their energy to do one last pull. To win it by one second is pretty crazy. It’s my first ever TTT victory and to do it in this race with back-to-back victories is pretty special,” Evenepoel said after the race.

English rider Yates is no time-trial specialist either and his UAE Team lost another 15 seconds here on his first major outing since joining the home side, who are riding without their iconic double Tour de France winning superstar rider Tadej Pogacar.

Lurking behind the lead pair are two Bahrain Victorious riders, Nikias Arndt and Pello Bilbao.

Wednesday’s stage will shake up the leaderboard even further as it leaves the pretty seaside district of Umbrella Beach to head out across the desert. The riders then have 20km of continuous above five percent incline as they climb up the Jebel Jais mountain.