Three races, three winners and all of the action.
Stage 2, Saudi Tour
What a difference 24 hours makes. Stage 1 saw Niccolo Bonifazio hit the deck when the echelons formed, today he delivered victory for Total Direct-Energie. Bahrain-McLaren’s Phil Bauhaus won the bunch gallop for second, just edging out Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic). Despite a late attack by Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-McLaren) to grab vital seconds, Rui Costa retains the leader’s jersey for UAE Team-Emirates by a single second.
I love how Bonifazio used his anger and frustration from yesterday to fuel his attack.
The stage was not without incident.
How everyone managed to stay on their bikes (pedal-powered or motorised) is quite a feat.
Video appeared after the stage of the seconds before a nasty crash in the peloton. It appeared to show the race leader pushing an NTT rider.
However, not all was as it seemed and Rui Costa posted on social media. It’s a lesson in not jumping to conclusions we should all take on board.
View this post on Instagram
Hi fellows 😊 We keep the leader's jersey after today's stage! I thank to all my team mates the extraordinary work to protect me, as well as our team staff for providing us all the conditions we need. We only have to do our best. 💪 Feeling sad about the crash during the stage of the mate from NTT, which led to the accidental crash of other riders. I would like to clarify that it was Van Rensberg who accidentaly came to my side and my gesture was to protect myself from crash. After the stage, Van Rensburg came personally to our team parking to clarify that this situation happened due to a team mate touch him and his gesture is really appreciated. 🙏 Everything is clear to both of us and hope it's also to everybody. Thanks for all your support. Big hug 😊 📸 Bettini #UAETeamEmirates #RideTogheter #SaudiTour
Stage 1, Etoile des Besseges
The Saudi Tour was not the only race with echelon action, they spiced up the racing in France as well. Etoile is always a feisty affair and the opening stage saw a small group get away on the finishing circuits and an action-packed finale. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked countless time but his ferocity was matched by a tenacious performance from Groupama FDJ’s neo-pro, Alexys Brunel who got the jump on his rival to take a first professional victory.
Below is the English version of the team report (bravo Groupama FDJ for these).
Monsieur Brunel has hair to rival a certain Mr Fuglsang!
AG2R La Mondiale played an important part in the exciting finale.It was obvious they came to light the race up with their attacking style. – and a GI game to rival Cofidis!
That victory will surely come, and they are right about this race, Etoile can be both beautiful and brutal.
Stage 1, Volta la Comunitat Valenciana
The action all came down to a final sprint for the line. Deceuninck Quickstep lined up their formidable formation and looked all set to deliver Fabio Jakobsen his stage winning glory – right up until fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) popped up from seemingly nowhere to snatch it away from him. Alex Kristoff rounded out the podium for UAE-Team Emirates.
… and YES, that is Simon Gerrans on comms.
Groenewegen wasted no time getting into the groove again. Not too sure about those podium glasses mind.
the tweet above should play an off-season interview, but it will ot embed correctly. Here’s the link to the original tweet. Give it a watch.
Header image: ©David Ramos/Getty Images