Mark Cavendish Strengthens his Tour de France Claim | UAE Tour Stage 2

Abu Dhabi Breakwater – United Arab Emirates – cycling – Mark Cavendish (GBR – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) – Pascal Ackermann (GER – UAE Team Emirates pictured during UAE Tour 2022 – 4th Edition – stage 2 from Hudayriyat Island to Abu Dhabi Breakwater (176km) – Photo: Luca Bettini/RB/Cor Vos © 2022

Mark Cavendish is unstoppable in a long headwind sprint even at age 36. The Manx Missile launched his sprint early with 260 meters to go, surprising Sam Bennett and only having yesterday’s victor Jasper Philipsen as a challenger. Cavendish was too strong and his victory in UAE Tour stage 2 makes the decision for Patrick Lefevere on which sprinter to send to the Tour de France even more difficult.

UAE Tour Stage 2 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

For the second day in a row Gazprom rider Dmitry Strakhov was in a breakaway. In both stage 1 and 2 he got the maximum bonification seconds (6 seconds in each stage, 12 in total). That meant he might become the leader of the race if right sprinters would finish top 3 in today’s stage. Unfortunately for the Russian, Philipsen finished today in top 3, and that meant Strakhov after stage 2 is second in the GC, which still is impressive for his caliber rider and a worthwhile plan for Gazprom nonetheless.

Until the final kilometers nothing exciting happened in the peloton. At the headwind section riders rode for a long time for 20-25 km/h making the run in to the sprint an interminable drag. The race leader Jasper Philipsen even started to run mid-race to emphasise how slow the peloton was riding.

Jasper Philipsen training in running

The race was extremely slow. As you can see below in Latvian sprinters Emīls Liepiņš strava file, his average speed for 9.8 kilometers was 21.5 km/h and power only 66 watts. Most amateurs’ coffee rides are usually not that easy compared to the final 30km of this World-Tour race.

Average speed for 9.8 kilometers was 21.5 km/h. Data: Emīls Liepiņš Strava

As always everyone waited for the wind to change in the last 20km to form echelons, but the wind was not strong enough. With 2 km to go Bike-Exchange Jayco and Israel Premier-Tech went crazy at the front of the peloton to get a better position before a right turn with 1.2km to go. Burning riders early was not the best strategy as both Dylan Groenewegen (Bike-Exchange Jayco) and Rudy Barbier (Israel Premier-Tech) finished outside of the Top 10 after they were swamped by the other teams’ leadouts.

Philipsen is not on Rickaert’s wheel

The moment where Philipsen lost stage 2 was when he got squeezed and Pascal Ackermann took Philipsen’s lead-out man Jonas Rickaert’s wheel. Philipsen needed to start his sprint from a long way out and over-take Ackermann, whilst never being in the draft of Cavendish. Cavendish also launched early but from a better position and, considering he won the sprint against Philipsen by a wheel length, this poor starting position cost Philipsen.

Jasper Philipsen (BEL – Alpecin – Fenix) – Mark Cavendish (GBR – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) pictured during UAE Tour 2022 – 4th Edition – stage 2 from Hudayriyat Island to Abu Dhabi Breakwater (176km) – Photo: Luca Bettini/RB/Cor Vos © 2022

It was a terrible performance by Sam Bennett, who got boxed in after his lead-out man Danny Van Poppel stopped to sprint and the riders on the right side, Cavendish, Ackermann, Philipsen, launched early and closed the door around the left hand bend.

It was the second victory of the season for Cavendish, beating the best sprinters in the world. He also won in an impressive way Tour of Oman stage 2 without a great lead-out. When the Tour de France will start the Manx Missile will be 37 years old, but he is still in great shape. Fabio Jakobsen also is performing well with a better lead-out in the early season and it will be a hard decision for Patrick Lefevere to decide who to send to the Tour.

Foto LaPresse – Fabio Ferrari 22 Febbraio 2021 Abu Dhabi (Emirati Arabi Uniti) Sport Ciclismo UAE Tour 2021

Stage 3 will be a 9-kilometer flat time-trial. The Double ITT World Champion Filippo Ganna won the UAE Tour ITT last year and will be a huge favorite also in 2022, after winning two time-trials in Besseges and Provence in February. Stefan Bisseger and Tom Dumoulin will try to challenge powerful Italian.

UAE Tour Stage 3 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge