Einer Rubio celebrated his 25th birthday in style on Wednesday by winning the third stage of the UAE Tour.
Remco Evenepoel is the new overall race leader after he finished second in the stage. Due to time bonuses he holds a seven second lead over previous leader Luke Plapp.
“Of course, it’s a pity as we came so close to the first guy for the victory,” Evenepoel said. “I think with my sprint, I could have won the stage, but in the end the red jersey is a very nice reward also for the team.
“We had some bad luck, a few guys had a flat tyre on the climb and they had to come back, so we couldn’t actually execute the plan like we wanted. I wanted some guys to really speed up in the last kilometres so we could maybe catch the guy and I could do my sprint, but I think everybody was really strong today.”
Rubio embarked on a solo attack 10 kilometres from the finish, and built up a lead of almost a minute over the peloton on the final climb.
His lead was reduced to 30 seconds as they entered the final kilometre but he still had 14sec to spare as he crossed the line. Rubio succeeded where Spaniard Oier Lazkano’s courageous attempt had failed.
His breakaway lasted more than 100km of the 185km stage before he was caught at the start of the climb of Jebel Jais mountain.
Thursday’s fourth stage is a 174km ride around Dubai on a flat course. The race ends on Sunday.