Merlier outsprints Ewan for closest-ever UAE Tour win

Merlier outsprints Ewan for closest-ever UAE Tour win

Stage 1 of the UAE Tour produced the closest sprint in the history of the race with Tim Merlier edging out Caleb Ewan by the tightest of margins to take control of the race leader’s Red Jersey.

Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) and Ewan (Lotto Dstny) did brilliantly to work themselves into a 12-rider group who forged clear during the final hour of action and then went toe-to-toe along the seafront in Al Mirfa. So close were the duo on the finish line that it took the race jury around 15 minutes to decide the result of the stage, with Merlier ultimately crowned victorious.  

The Stage started at Al Dhafra Castle and crosswinds in the desert made for a dramatic day in the saddle. The peloton split into several echelons almost as soon as the action commenced with 24 riders including Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), Sam Bennett (Bora – Hansgrohe) and Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) moving forward at the head of the race. 

Plapp’s performances in the two intermediate sprints ensured he earned the Black Jersey, and it was shortly after the second intermediate sprint that a second group containing Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco Alula) and Ewan momentarily regained contact with the leaders.

That state of play didn’t last long though, with 12 riders breaking clear again and staying ahead to contest the victory, with Merlier and Ewan proving the fastest finishers. Cavendish meanwhile, took third place on the stage, with Plapp adding the White Jersey to the Black Jersey he’d secured earlier in the stage by also finishing in the front group.