Stage 6 at the UAE Tour was very chaotic with a big crash at the start that caused confusion and havoc. Our plan was to let some guys give the break a try if there was interest from other strong teams and Alba did a great job getting himself in there during those extremely fast and chaotic kilometers at the beginning of the stage.
We were hoping Lotto would let the gap go a little bigger and believed they had a chance of staying away. Like always, it depended on the wind direction and how the peloton rode the early portions of the climb.
The final climb was another bizarre desert affair. The air quality was absolutely atrocious. For me, that was a decisive factor. The pace was quite controlled and moderate for the first 10 kilometers and the group remained large. With the big sweeping corners and large group, it became a game of holding position while still staying out of the wind and conserving energy.
The guys did a great job positioning Tsgabu and me in the approach to the climb and on the first half of the climb thanks to some great intel from Luka who had ridden the climb before.
Sam, Jack, and Callum hung on late into the climb and gave us a hand with sheltering and positioning. Once the pace cranked up, Tsgabu and I tried to stay together but were both a little too far back when the front guys opened gaps. I closed a few of them, which proved to be my undoing in losing contact with the group but helped Tsgabu stay there a little longer.
Considering the length of this climb and knowing this race was mostly meant to be about riding into it, I’m happy I had the chance to push myself all the way to the line. Another step in learning to work with the guys.
I didn’t come here expecting to have the boys rally for me, but it’s a great example of the culture and closeness within this team that we all chip in where we can for each other, and I am excited to build on this in the coming races.
Race Images: Getty Images