Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) had a very strong performance on today’s queen stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, as he came home in second place, to move up to second overall on GC.
The 150-kilometre stage starting in Al Ain finished on the summit finish of Jebel Hafeet, and being the only non-flat stage of the race, it was always going to be decisive in determing the final GC.
Roche’s fellow Irishman Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins) was one of four riders alongside Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Marco Coledan (Trek-Segafredo) and Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) to go clear. However, these four riders were reeled in as the peloton raced to the final climb.
On the final climb to Jebel Hafeet, Roche was to the fore, and the Irish champion jumped clear with Estonian rider Tanel Kangert (Astana). As expected, the race leader Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) was dropped on that climb.
The duo pulled clear, but Roche was dropped with just over three kilometres remaining. He dig deep though to limit his losses to Kangert to 17 seconds.
Roche now sits in second place, 21 seconds behind Kangert with Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) sitting in third place, an additional 22 seconds down on the Irishman.
The four-day race finishes tomorrow under the floodlights around the Yas Marina Formula One circuit.