UAE Tour S4: Kool kicks past Wiebes in big bunch sprint, Longo Borghini wraps up overall
Longo Borghini opens her 2023 calendar with dominant GC victory in inaugural UAE Tour.
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Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) came off Lorena Wiebes’ wheel Sunday to make it two-one in her blossoming rivalry with the SD Worx supersprinter.
Kool waited for former DSM teammate Wiebes to open a huge long-range acceleration in the final stage of the inaugural UAE Tour Women before coming off her wheel to roar to victory in Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
Chiara Consonni (UAE ADQ) came in for second as Wiebes faded from first to third in the final stretch.
Elisa Longo Borghini rolled in with the bunch to secure the overall after her dominant victory Saturday on Jebel Hafeet. The 21-year-old pocket rocket Gaia Realini put Trek-Segafredo one-two on the podium in an impressive Women’s WorldTour debut.
#UAETourWomen is over! Mood of the day 🤪 pic.twitter.com/W00Jdqh3CQ
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) February 12, 2023
After the summit finish on Jebel Hafeet the day before, it was the turn of the sprinters yet again Sunday with many expecting the re-match of Kool vs Wiebes to go the way of the SD Worx rider who had looked back to her best after her stage two win.
While the wind did not cause as much drama during the stage as it had on previous days, it did have a last-minute effect on the result, with a headwind down the finishing straight catching Wiebes and her last woman, Barbieri, out.
Kool, who was boxed in, benefitted from her inability to launch until the last minute as Wiebes, who was forced to the front early opened up too soon and faded into the headwind. Kool, after finding space on the road, managed to come around her compatriot and claim a second victory making it 2-1 to the Team DSM rider.
Wiebes would have to settle for third place on the stage as Consonni managed to come past her to take second.
“I think we started in the right way and we finish in the right way so I’m really really happy that we end in this way with the team. We had an amazing week and it’s a dream come true. Also taking the green jersey home is something special,” Kool said after the stage.
On the situation coming into the sprint she said: “I did not really wait, I just couldn’t go anywhere. The plan was to start actually earlier but I guess with the wind it was perfect timing and it came out pretty good,”
“I think if I could see it right her readout was quite early done so she was kind of forced to go early. And I have to say we also didn’t expect this wind. It was not really on the weather protocols that the wind will be this strong. But I think for us it was quite lucky that the wind was strong and I could come from the back. Yeah and I’m just really happy I could sprint. I mean, I was boxed in but it seems it was perfect to be boxed in and I had to wait a bit to launch my sprint.”
With two wins under her belt before the European season has even begun, Kool takes confidence going into the classics.
“Especially how we raced as a team this week gives a lot of confidence also for the rest of the season in all the other races. I mean, it’s really special what we do here as a team also yesterday with Esmee [Pepperkamp] getting fourth there so it gives for the whole team a confidence boost,” she said.
“I can’t wait until we go back to Belgium and race.”
Asked what she had learned from this race she replied: “I think being really patient and don’t stress so keeping myself really calm even if I’m boxed in or if things go not to plan just be patient and wait.”
How it unfolded
The temperatures may have risen for the final stage of the women’s UAE Tour but the race took a while to heat up.
With no wind, and the GC all but decided, it was just a case of waiting for the sprint meaning that the break of the day was given an ample lead that at one stage was around five minutes but was reeled back to a manageable 1:30.
The gap to the leaders, Petra Stiasny (Fenix-Deceuninck), Iris Monticolo (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), and Aileen Schweikart (Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi), fluctuated between one minute and 30 seconds before the group was eventually caught with 14 km to go, just as the peloton changed direction over a bridge.
It was at that moment that Liane Lippert of Movistar launched an attack with teammate Emma Norsgaard. The two teammates managed to get a small gap but race leader Longo Borghini was straight on it while Team DSM, keen to keep the race together for their sprinter, brought the two riders back.
The lead-in to the sprint finish was chaotic with multiple teams charging forward to establish their leadouts and make it into the final corner safely. All the main sprint hopefuls and their lead-out riders made it around the corner without incident but with a block headwind the best-laid lead out plans were scuppered and Wiebes came up short.
Kool and Consonni, having waited — or been forced to wait — came past the European champion to take first and second leaving the Team SD Worx sprinter in third.
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