A fine habit for Waerenskjold
January 31 st 2024 - 16:57 [GMT + 3]
After a very eventful day including echelons in the wilderness around AlUla, stage victory was decided after a bunched sprint for only the strongest men of the event. Well led out by his Uno X Mobility team, Soren Waerenskjold captured a second stage success in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after triumphing last year. On the line the Norwegian beat Henok Mulubrhan (Astana Qazaqstan Team) and Nils Eekhoff (Teal DSM-Firmenich PostNL) to become the new overall leader of the AlUla Tour.
A blue sky, bright sun and enthusiastic spectators welcomed the start of day 2 of the AlUla Tour at Winter Park. A nice location to launch the 126 riders for the longest stage of the event: 199kms to the Sharaan Nature Reserve. It took quite a battle for six men to break away from the peloton in different groups.
Eventually, after Azparren (Q36.5) conquered the bonus sprint (at km 20), he was caught by four other riders: Zubeldia (Euskatel-Euskadi), Pansaard (Roojai Insurance), Koishi (JCL Team Ukyo) and Al Shaikhahmed (Saudi National Team) while Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility) who had claimed 2 bonus seconds stopped his efforts and awaiyed the pack. After 45kms of racing, the gap had reached 3’40” while team dsm-firmenich PostNL of race leader Casper Van Uden started chasing and took control of the escapees.
At km 67, after a left hand turn, the real action started with team Uno-X Mobility making the best of the slight cross-wind. Indeed the pack broke up into several echelons with riders like Latour (TotalEnergies), Majka (UAE Team Emirates), Waerenskjold (Uno-X Mobility) and even Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco AlUla) struggling to follow. After the front five were gobbled up by the first part of the peloton at km 80, the situation calmed down after another left turn (headwind).
The pack bunched up together again at km 98, shortly before three men took off: Azparren (Euskatel-Euskadi), Miltiadis (Terengganu Cycling Team) and Oka (JCL Team Ukyo). They would soon to be caught by two riders from Roojai Insurance: Batsaikhan and Tzortzakis. The front five saw their lead considerably grow: 5’40” at km 119 before the sprinting teams moved up to the front of the pack to start chasing. At the second intermediate sprit (km 123) claimed by Oka, the gap had dropped to 4’40. At the third intermediate sprint (km 160) won again by Oka, the peloton was within striking distance, at only 30”. The leading men were finally caught four kilometres later.
Latour gives it a go
The pack remained bunched in the final twenty kilometres under the control of several teams including Movistar and Cofidis. On the final climb, while a sick Dylan Groenewegen was dropped, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) was the first to give it a go. The Frenchman stayed clear until the final kilometre before only just being caught. Led out by his Uno-X Mobility squad, Soeren Warenskjold powered to the line. The Norwegian who had won last year’s stage 3 to Abu Rakah managed to claim his seventh pro success by beating Henok Mulubrhan (Astana Qazaqstan) and Nils Eekhoff (Team dsm-firmenich).
Fourth of stage 1 and victorious today, the former U23 time-trial UCI World Champion moves up to first place of the General Classification and will be wearing the Green jersey for tomorrow’s stage 3 from the AlUla International Airport to the AlUla Camel Cup Track. Waerenskjold also leads the points and youth standings while Atsushi Oka (JCL Team Ukyo) becomes the Most Active rider.