Abu Dhabi: Belgian Jasper Philipsen saw off a strong field to lay claim to the first stage of the new WorldTour season today, dominating a sprint finish to the UAE Tour’s 184 kilometre opening stage.
The 23-year-old, tackling the race for the second time, got the better of Sam Bennett with Ineos Grenadiers’ Elia Viviani crossing in third.
Philipsen donned the leader’s red jersey after a largely flat ride culminating in a home straight stretching 50km through the Abu Dhabi desert.
Tough climbing stages
Trickier days are to come which will give two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar his chance.
The Skovenian, the winner in 2021, is the favourite in race that has two tough climbing stages and a tricky 9km individual time-trial.
Having triumphed across the peaks and plains of France, Pogacar starts his preparation for a third tilt at cycling’s greatest prize in the seven-day race across the dust and desert in his UAE Emirates team’s home race.