Jebel Jais (Ras Al Khaimah), February 23 : Einer Rubio earned himself the perfect birthday present by winning the the Burjeel Holdings Stage at the summit of Jebel Jais.
The Movistar Team rider, who turns 25 today, attacked the peloton with approximately 10km to go on the final climb and held his lead all the way to the finish, crossing the line 14 seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), who won the sprint for second place ahead of Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates).
Evenepoel’s disappointment at not taking the stage victory was soon forgotten when it transpired he’d taken control of the Red Jersey, with the World Champion opening up a seven-second advantage over Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) at the top of the General Classification, with Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) 11 seconds back in third.
Evenepoel has also been awarded the White (Young Rider Classification) Jersey, while Plapp has now moved into the Green (Sprint Classification) Jersey. Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck) meanwhile, has taken control of the Black (Intermediate Sprint) Jersey.
Stage 3 took the peloton 185km from Umbrella Beach Al Fujairah with four riders breaking away almost as soon as the start flag had lowered.
Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Oier Lazkano (Movistar Team), Riccardo Lucca and Filippo Magli (both Green Project-Bardianicsf-Faizane) saw their lead grow to almost six minutes before the peloton began pegging them back, and Lazkano was left to press up the final climb on his own before he was eventually reeled in with 14km to go.
Just minutes later Lazkano’s teammate Rubio launched his attack and that was the one that ultimately proved victorious.
1 – Einer Rubio (Movistar Team), 185km in 4h51’24”, average speed 38.09km/h
2 – Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) at 14″
3 – Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) at 15″
1 – Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step)
2 – Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenaders) at 7″
3 – Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) at 11″
Red Jersey, General Classification. Sponsor: International Holding Company
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step)
Green Jersey, Points Classification. Sponsor: BeIT – Lucas Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers)
White Jersey, Young Rider Classification. Sponsor: Nakheel – Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step)
Black Jersey, Intermediate Sprint Classification. Sponsor: Experience Abu Dhabi -Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
As Remco Evenepoel will wear the Red Jersey on Stage 4, the White Jersey will be worn by Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM).
Stage winner Einer Rubio said: “This result was more than I expected because the goal was to hold the wheels of the favourites on that last climb. I saw an opportunity to attack and I had enough strength to stay ahead until the end. I knew the peloton was closing the gap but I kept a steady pace, and I didn’t know I’d actually won the stage until about 1km to go. I was hoping to do well at the UAE Tour after I started in Argentina on the right foot. I showed my potential and now I can finally take advantage of it. Now I am very confident that 2023 will be a good year for me.”
Red and White Jersey holder Remco Evenepoel said: “What I achieved today is good for team morale, and is a good sign for the stages to come, but seven seconds lead on GC is not a lot – although I know it’s better than having a zero-second lead. Jebel Hafeet is going to be different on Sunday because it’s a steeper climb. I’m not a very explosive climber but every year I become a bit stronger, and that showed today. I know from training camps that I can beat some fast punchers on uphill sprints but it’s not my main goal to work on that.”
Green Jersey holder Lucas Plapp said: “I expected to lose the lead to Remco today. He’s the World
Champion for a reason and that was as close as I could get. Remco is the strongest cyclist in the world. You saw how strong he was at the finish. The team looked after me all day and I gave all I had in the sprint, and I hope I have more cards to play later in the week.”