Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team) claimed a well deserved victory in the queen stage of the second Abu Dhabi Tour as Vincenzo Nibali decided to give a chance to his faithful domestique who has played a key role in many of his great successes. In a day of echelons on the way to the famous mountain Jebel Hafeet, Kangert and Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) took the opportunity to come across to lone leader Carlos Verona (Orica-BikeExchange) 6.5km before the summit. Kangert rode away solo with 3.2km to go to take over from Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) in the lead of the overall ranking on the eve of the conclusive stage.
1 - Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team) 150km in 3h31’31”, average speed 42.549km/h
2 - Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) at 17"
3 - Mekseb Debesay (Team Dimension Data) at 33"
- RED JERSEY, sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (General Classification by time) – Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team)
- GREEN JERSEY, sponsored by Nation Towers (General Classification by points) – Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
- WHITE JERSEY, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports (Best Young Rider, born after 1 January 1991) – Julien Bernard (Trek - Segafredo)
- BLACK JERSEY, sponsored by Etihad (Intermediate Sprint Classification) – Jens Keukeleire (Orica - BikeExchange)
1 - Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team)
2 - Nicola Roche (Team Sky) at 21"
3 - Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida) at 43"
4 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) at 1'00"
5 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) s.t.
In the press conference, the winner and Red Jersey Tanel Kangert said: "I have to thank my team for the freedom they gave me for this race. We had two cards to play. It sounds like a cliché to thank the team but it’s true, we rode from the beginning and I reached the climb fresh. Vincenzo Nibali did a good job behind me. We’ve had four good years together. He’s a captain who gives a lot of confidence to his team-mates. I’ve never raced that late in the year. I’ve never had so many kilometres in my legs in the same season. I can’t wait to go home but I’ll go home happy because I came with the ambition of making the top 10, maybe the top 5 if I was being lucky, so to win here is beyond expectations".
After the stage, the Green Jersey, Mark Cavendish, said: "I was very happy to be in the Abu Dhabi Sports Council red jersey today. It was very nice to wear it. As a team, we had another good ride. Meksem Debesay has been riding at the front these last two days and he was able to compete with the best climbers uphill today. I’m happy to keep the green jersey and I hope to retain it tomorrow as well".
The White Jersey, Julien Bernard, said: "I usually manage to maintain a good level of fitness until the very end of the season, with not putting on weight or losing motivation, so the team decided to send me here, firstly to help Giacomo [Nizzolo] in the sprints, secondly to play my own cards on this climb. That’s what we did. I stayed under pressure till the Abu Dhabi Tour so I’m delighted to get the white jersey here today".
The Black Jersey, Jens Keukeleire, said: "I’m happy with one more day in the black jersey. But after two stages in the breakaway, I took an easy day today. I didn’t really want to go away again today. I had a look at who was making a move and it was ok for me to keep the black jersey".