Merlier Wins Stage 6 of UAE Tour
Stage 6 of the 2023 UAE Tour presented the riders with a 166-kilometer stage from Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi Breakwater. The stage was designed with the sprinters in mind and the peloton left Scooby-Doo and his gang behind when they took off from the start in Warner Bros. World.
A breakaway trio was formed shortly after the beginning of the stage. The breakaway group featured Larry Warbasse (AG2R-Citroen), Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck), and Samuele Zoccarato of Team Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane. The escapees managed to remain ahead of the peloton until five kilometers from the finish line where they were reeled in by the chasing sprinter teams who wanted to make the most of the final sprinting opportunity in this year’s UAE Tour before tomorrow’s concluding mountain stage.
Tim Merlier proved to be the fastest man on the day as he secured a fine stage victory for his Soudal-QuickStep team. Sam Bennett finished second for his Bora-Hansgrohe outfit and yesterday’s stage winner Dylan Groenewegen took third.
"Luckily, I was able to find a small gap and start my sprint, and it was enough to take my win. It feels great to do that in the Green Jersey (being Points Competition leader),” stage winner Merlier told Roadcycling.com after taking part in the victory celebrations. “This is my third victory since the beginning of the season, and my second of this race, and it shows my shape is good."
Soudal-QuickStep’s race leader Evenepoel remains optimistic before Sunday’s final showdown.
“Tomorrow, our goal is to try to defend the Red Jersey, it’s as simple as that. If we manage to win the last stage as well, then that would be an amazing bonus and I’ll try to go for that double.”
“If someone is much stronger than me tomorrow though, I won’t be disappointed. Starting with an advantage of nine seconds is not a lot, but it’s better than one or two seconds, and we have a strong team,” World Champion Evenepoel explained to Roadcycling.com.
"So far I haven’t won many one-week stage races in my career. This year the Giro d’Italia is my main focus, but I also want to win UCI WorldTour races like the UAE Tour, or at least finish on the podium, and so far, we’re doing well,” Evenepoel continued.
The top of the general classification remains unchanged following today’s stage. Soudal-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel leads the race in 19:55:40. Ineos-Grenadiers rider Luke Plapp is nine seconds behind, and Pello Bilbao holds the final podium spot, thirteen seconds adrift for Team Bahrain-Victorious.
Sunday’s stage 7 of the 2023 UAE Tour is the final stage of this year’s race. The stage is a 153-kilometer ride from Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium to Jebel Hafeet. The stage is for mountain goats and general classification contenders as it concludes with a 10.7-kilometer climb featuring an average gradient of 6.8 percent and a maximum gradient of 10.1 percent. Will Remco Evenepoel be able to protect his general classification lead and be crowned race winner following the stage? Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for UAE Tour coverage.