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UAE Tour stage 2 - Live coverage

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of the 2021 UAE Tour. It's time trial day!

After yesterday's unexpected but welcome excitement in the cross-winds it's time to see the TT riders take centre stage. The course is only 13km in length and it's totally flat but this is a significant test for all involved. Filippo Ganna starts as the out-and-out favourite but the GC stars, Pogacar, Almeida and Yates all need to step up. 

Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ will be our first rider off in just over ten minutes time. Ganna heads off at 15:48 local time, which is about two hours later. 

Some of the early starters, right here:

1 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 13:45:00

2 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix 13:46:00

3 Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 13:47:00

4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 13:48:00

5 Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 13:49:00

6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 13:50:00

7 Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech 13:51:00

Bjerg off third today and in theory he's a contender for a strong opening time and he could be one of the few riders who comes close to Ganna for the stage. The UAE rider lost significant time yesterday but this course is good for him. UAE will expecting him to be in the hotseat during their home race.

Yesterday saw the race split to pieces in the crosswinds before van der Poel stormed to the win. There were good riders from Yates, Pogacar, and Almeida but several GC riders lost so much time that they're already out of the GC frame. Here's our GC analysis page. Almeida's one second time bonus at an intermediate sprint ensures that he starts his TT after Pogacar. 

Ladagnous is on the start list and 3, 2, 1, we're off and racing on stage 2 of the UAE Tour.

It was hard at the back at the UAE Tour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you agree with these ratings ahead of today's stage:

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Breaking news and we're hearing reports that Mathieu van der Poel  is out of the race after a positive test for COVID-19. More to come...

Wielerflits are reporting that the race leader will not start the TT today and that he's gone. There's no more information at this stage but this is a disaster for the race and brings back all the memories from last year's positive tests. 

It looks like all of the Alpecin team have been pulled from the race.

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Details are sketchy but all we have right now is that the positive test came from a staff member.

Here's the full statement from the race organisers, so we have some official news:

Abu Dhabi, 22 February 2021 - Alpecin-Fenix, in agreement with the UAE Tour organiser, have decided to withdraw its team from the race, in order to safeguard the race bubble and ensure the safe continuation of the race.

The team was notified of one positive result of a member of its staff from the round of tests conducted on Sunday evening, 21st of February.

Upon receiving the results, the person immediately went into isolation, and all those who came into contact with this person are self-isolating, in compliance with the protocol measures put in place by the race organisers and UAE Health Authorities. All team members will undertake further tests in the coming days, while they remain in isolation.

Bjerg by the way has gone fastest with a time of 14:17 over the 13km course.

Here's our breaking news on van der Poel and his Alpecin Fenix team. It's a developing story so please update it for more information. 

ABU DHABI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 21 Podium Mathieu van der Poel of The Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Red Leader Jersey Celebration during the 3rd UAE Tour 2021 Stage 1 a 176km stage from Al Dhafra Castle to Al Mirfa Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures UAETour on February 21 2021 in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo has just set the fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint. 

14:10 for Stefan Bissegger and he's fastest by seven seconds over Bjerg. That's a huge performance from the EF-Education Nippo rider.

Emanuel Buchmann should be coming to the finish shortly, followed by Luis Leon Sanchez.

Here's the communication from the Alpecin team.

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8:02 for Buchmann at the intermediate split but it's still Bissegger who leads the stage with a time of 14:10.

De Bod is currently third on the leaderboard, behind Bissegger and Bjerg with a time of 14:29.

Alejandro Valverde is about to start his TT.

6th on the line for Buchmann with a time of 14:48 for the German. Not too shabby but there's a lot of good riders still to come.

Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation starts his time trial in just under ten minutes. 

Jack Bauer is having a storming ride and has caught his minute man Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis who really need to let the wheel go. 14;58 and 12th for Bauer on the line. 

Brandle takes 5th fastest at the line just a few seconds later.

14;26 for LL Sanchez and that's good enough for third at this piont. Good ride from the veteran on Astana Premier Tech.

Froome goes off strong, spending but 200m out of the saddle as he looks to build up speed immediately. 

Powless starts and he's followed by Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers.

Meanwhile Valverde finishes in 21st, exactly one minute down on the current leader Stefan Bissegger.

Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos takes fourth at the finish. 

9th best time for Yates at the intermediate. 

Froome was 33rd at the intermediate. 

Caleb Ewan and Jack Haig are the next starters to roll down the ramp.

15:32 for Froome and that's good enough for 33rd place on the stage.

Adam Yates is closing in on the finish and this is a crucial moment in his defense of this race. 

14;54 for Yates and that's enough for 16th place. He won't be worried by the riders ahead of him at this point as his attention will be on Pogacar later. Bjerg does gain time on the Ineos rider though.

The top three at the finish remain the same with Bissegger, Bjerg and LL Sanchez currently top of the standings.

Away from this race and Peter Cossins has written up five conclusions from Haut Var. Here's the story.

Sobrero creeps into the top ten on the stage, while Formolo is about to start his effort.

Alex Dowsett about to start his TT. This course is almost perfect for the British national champion.

Here are the next wave of starters:

87 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education-Nippo 15:11:00

88 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 15:12:00

89 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team 15:13:00

90 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 15:14:00

91 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 15:15:00

92 Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team 15:16:00

93 Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 15:17:00

Dowsett steadily pushing out 420watts and looking good in these early stages. 

6th and 7'52 for Dowsett at the first time check.

7'47 for Craddock and that's third at the intermediate. That's a really good time for the American. Then Dani Martinez goes second with 7'43.

Meanwhile Dowsett has caught and passed Tsgabu Grmay.

Can Daniel Martinez hold on because he's flying right now and is only five seconds off the lead.

13th place for Dowsett on that ride. He might be happy with the performance but perhaps not the result. 

14:35 and 8th for Craddock. Martinez still to come.

Here are the next wave of starters:

103 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange 15:27:00

104 Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation 15:28:00

105 Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 15:29:00

106 Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo 15:30:00

107 Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers 15:31:00

108 Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 15:32:00

109 Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 15:33:00

110 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 15:34:00

6th for Martinez with 14:32 and another rider fails to maintain their pace from the first half of the TT.

There is some wind out there and if that's picked up it could be why some of these riders have struggled in the second half of the TT. Could Ganna predicted win be in some doubt?

Bissegger still leads from Bjerg and LL Sanchez. 

Mechanical problem for Sam Bennett as he rolls down the start ramp. He's settled in after a few hundred meters. 

Here are the next wave of starters:

116 Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal 15:40:00

117 Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious 15:41:00

118 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 15:42:00

119 Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 15:43:00

120 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM 15:44:00

121 Kevin Colleoni (Ita) Team BikeExchange 15:45:00

122 Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation 15:46:00

123 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 15:47:00

14'47 and 13th on the line for Michael Hepburn. 

A terrible for Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo as he comes over the line. 

He's up but his jersey is torn to pieces. That was a really heavy and shocking fall. It's not clear if there was a mechanical but his bars seemed fine, and his chain didn't slip but something has gone badly wrong. Glad he's at least back on his feet. 

World Champion in the TT, Ganna is about to start his effort against the clock. He's the favourite but will the conditions narrow the gap?

Here's a reminder of our main news item from today.

Van der Poel and Alpecin-Fenix exit UAE Tour due to coronavirus case

Mathieu van der Poel at the UAE Tour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here are the last batch of starters:

129 Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 15:53:00

130 Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma 15:55:00

131 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 15:57:00

132 Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 15:59:00

133 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis 16:01:00

134 Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 16:03:00

135 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 16:05:00

136 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 16:07:00

137 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 16:09:00

138 David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 16:11:00

139 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 16:13:00

Nibali is Ganna's minute man. 

Nibali is riding well, 13th at the first split.

Here comes Ganna...

Ganna is seven seconds faster at the first check and is on course for the stage win.

Ganna is closing on Nibali. The gap is about 200m.

Maybe less than 100m now. 

500m to go and Ganna is hunting down Nibali.

13:56 for Ganna and he's 14 seconds faster at the line. He's just in a different league. 

33rd for Nibali with 14'55.

Tour de France winner Pogacar is up and running.

Almeida is now out on the course as well. 

Dekker is wearing the leader's jersey. Not sure I've seen that before given we don't actually have an official race leader after van der Poel pulled out of the race.

Pogacar is third at the first check and just 11 seconds down on Ganna. The race lead will be his if he keeps this up.

All eyes on Almeida though who hasn't yet come through the first check.

Pogacar is coming to the line and he's not going to challenge Ganna but he's riding really well and looks on course for the race lead.

Almeida was 8 seconds down on Pogacar at the intermediate and the UAE rider has 14"28 at the finish. That's a good chunk of time on Adam Yates.

Pogacar 4th at the line , 24 seconds off Ganna.

14'26 for Almedia and that keeps him within touching distance, 5 seconds down on Pogacar on GC.

Dekker comes over the line but it's a win for Ganna on stage 2 of the UAE Tour.

Here's our brief report and results.

Let's hear from our stage winner:

"It’s not easy. Every race is hard because everyone arrives with focus and good legs but my body was ready today. This is a fantastic result for me and the team. 

"It’s strange in the middle of the dessert but it’s really nice. This is my first time in the UAE Tour and at the moment I’m really happy and I hope to have good legs for future races like Tirreno-Adriatico in the next months.

 "Every TT is a test for me and I try to arrive better and better. It’s really important. It’s a high-speed race around 55/56kph and it’s hard but I’m happy to be here. Vincenzo is a big champion. Having him in front of me was really stimulating. I tried to catch him before the finish but he was just ahead of me."

Here are the top 10 results from the stage:

1 Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:13:56

2 Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo 0:00:14

3 Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:21

4 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:24

5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:30

6 Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep

7 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka Assos 0:00:32

8 Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:33

9 Daniel Martinez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:36

10 Matthias Brandle (Aut) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:38

GC results after stage 2 of the UAE Tour:

1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:00:05

2 Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:05

3 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:18

4 Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:33

5 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:39

6 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 0:00:41

7 Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:45

8 David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:46

9 Michael Morkov (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:47

10 Mattias Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:48

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