The 168km second-stage started in Hatta and went through the Hajar Mountains, and back to finish at Hatta Dam. The finish had been up for debate on whether it is a stage for the sprinters or GC contenders. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) proved for the second year in a row that the Hatta Dam stage belongs to the sprinters.
The Peloton started racing with 15km to go knowing there are two 9% short climbs coming up. Two riders attacked and made a gap of 20 seconds, but they were quickly swallowed up by Peloton as teams were fighting for positions.
Our riders with Bataglin and Arashiro and Poels were in good positions, but at every roundabout, it was getting more competitive to keep it. The goal on this stage was for Poels not to lose seconds on the main GC riders. The steep 180m climb up to the finish peaks at a 17% gradient, so positioning was crucial coming into the last corner.
In the end, Poels finished 22nd and lost no time, achieving our goal, while Battaglin came through in 11th.
Wout Poels said: “The stage went fairly easy, but it was a really hard 15km at the end, especially with the heat, and Hatta Dam was really quick. The boys did a really good job so I could stay safe in the front of the Peloton.” Asked about tomorrow’s stage – “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, I know the climb and let’s see what we have.”
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