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UAE Tour stage 3 - Live coverage

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Stage 3 of the UAE Tour brings the peloton from Strata Manufacturing in Al Ain to the UAE Tour’s first summit finish atop Jebel Hafeet.

The final haul to Jebel Hafeet, 10.8km in length with an average gradient of 5.4%, will provoke some further changes to the general classification, where Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) wears the red jersey. Before that sting in the tail, the peloton track an entirely flat route on the 166km stage. 

-150km

General classification after stage 2

Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates squad have moved towards the head of the peloton but the pace is still gentle in these opening kilometres and the break's lead is now 3:35.

-145km

Filippo Ganna (Ineos) was, unsurprisingly, a clear winner in yesterday's short time trial, but behind the world champion, the general classification picture was adjusted further after the echelons on the opening day had already eliminated all bar 20 or so riders from the reckoning. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) enjoyed a solid outing, but Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is just 5 seconds back, while defending champion Adam Yates (Ineos) lies 5th at 39 seconds. 

-136km

Mathieu van der Poel and his Alpecin-Fenix squad withdrew from the UAE Tour before yesterday's time trial due to a confirmed COVID-19 case among their staff. Wielerflits reports that Van der Poel has already been given clearance to return to the Netherlands after returning two negative PCR tests, and he is now eyeing participation in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Flanders Classics CEO Thomas Van Den Spiegel, needless to say, was receptive to the idea: "Although we are not a party in the discussion it is our belief that, if he is compliant with both UCI and our federations protocol, [Van der Poel] will be able to take a start." 

-126km

Pogacar drops back to the team car and gets some lubricant applied to his cleats. After a polite 'thank you,' he's quickly back at the rear of the peloton, which is now 5:40 behind De Gendt and Gallopin.

-116km

-115km

The odds are against the success of any early break on a day like this, but De Gendt and Gallopin are battling gamely all the same. The experienced duo now has a buffer of more than 6 minutes on the peloton as they bowl along a seemingly interminable section of false flat along a wide and straight highway.  

João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) looked to have picked up where he left off at last October's Giro d'Italia with a solid outing in yesterday's time trial. The Portuguese rider lies 5 seconds down on Pogacar ahead of today's summit finish at Jebel Hafeet, though he was decidedly guarded in his assessment of the road ahead yesterday. "We are in a good position for the first summit finish and we'll continue like this, taking it day by day and seeing where that leads us," said Almeida.

-105km

After the recent spate of cancellations and postponements, the sight of Thomas De Gendt off the front of a bike race brings a sense of normality to an unusual early season. Gallopin is a very willing collaborator with the Belgian here. Just as well: as Einer Rubio discovered on the Giro d'Italia last October, it doesn't pay to skip a turn when you're in a break with De Gendt.

-99km

The peloton spreads across the road as it enters a section of mild headwind. With almost 100km and a stiff final climb to go, there is no undue concern about the buffer currently enjoyed by Gallopin and De Gendt. 

Speaking before the start, Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) suggested that the wind could have an impact on today's stage, as it did on the opening day, when he finished as a part of a bunch that came home more than 8 minutes down. "It all depends on how the race pans out. On paper, it’s a flat day until the final climb but the wind is blowing and we could see echelons like the other day," said Froome, who was a low-key 83rd in yesterday's time trial. "I think there’ll be a lot of fighting for position early on and I don’t think it’ll be all about the final climb today - I think we’ll see some splits before that."

Froome was also interviewed in today's Guardian, where he had little to say when asked about former Sky doctor and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman, who has been charged by UKAD with two violations of anti-doping rules. “I don’t know enough about the specifics of the case to comment. Are these questions in connection to Team Sky or British Cycling? I don’t know the answer so I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment on his case specifically. I don’t know the particulars," said Froome, who raced for both Sky and the British national team.

-91km

-89km

A delegation from UAE Team Emirates is now near the front with Pogacar tucked safely among them. Despite the high speed and high tension, the peloton survives intact for the time being.

-87km

The peloton fans across the road but a truce hasn't been called just yet. Meanwhile, Gallopin and De Gendt stick to their task out in front, though their lead has been cut notably in the last few kilometres, and has now dropped inside four minutes.

De Gendt and Gallopin hae averaged 40.6km through the opening half of today's stage. The pace remains brisk in the peloton behind, however, and the gap has dropped towards three minutes. 

The pace eases off slightly in the peloton, and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) avails of the opportunity to pick up some bidons. Today is about survival for the German, who should have a shot at a bunch finish tomorrow. Emanuel Buchmann is Bora's option for a stage win today, though both the German and Patrick Konrad are already out of the GC contest after missing the split on stage 1.  

This is Buchmann's first race of a season that is built around his Giro d'Italia debut. The route of the 2021 Giro will be presented tomorrow afternoon in Milan. The race gets underway in Turin on May 8 and there are some firm rumours about where the road goes from there, with the Zoncolan expected to return, but all will be revealed tomorrow.