Tadej Pogačar looked relaxed ahead of the UAE Tour time trial, dancing to the music coming out of his headphones after his warm-up, but the UAE Team Emirates leader was extremely serious and very fast during his ride, with a time of 10:01.
It was the fourth fastest time behind stage winner Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Easypost), and only Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) was faster among the overall contenders for the opening race of the 2022 WorldTour. .
Bissegger set a time of 9:43 to beat world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) by seven seconds, with Dumoulin third at 9:57.
Pogačar was four seconds slower than Dumoulin but was happy with his race and the time gaps over his rivals overall after recently recovering from COVID-19.
“It was a really fast course, it was a really fast pace, you couldn’t go much faster than that,” Pogačar said, his average speed close to 54km/h for the nine-mile round-trip course. kilometers.
“On the way back it was raw power and I gave my best. I did my best intensity ever, so I’m pretty happy. It was a good time.”
UAE Team Emirates are on their home tour, with the pressure and hope that they will win again after Pogačar’s overall victory in 2021.
If Pogačar struggles at key mountain finishes on Wednesday at Jebel Jais and then at the top of Jebel Hafeet on Sunday, new signing Joao Almeida is expected to step in and try to win the UAE Tour. Time bonuses at both finishes favor Pogačar due to his aggression and speed, but Almeida can offer key support and an alternative.
Almeida finished an impressive fifth in the time trial, one place and only 4 seconds slower than Pogačar. Former U23 world champion Mikkel Bjerg finished sixth, two seconds slower, showing the intentions of UAE Team Emirates.
“We look good for tomorrow and for the next few days,” Pogačar underlined with growing confidence.
“Everyone is super good and I’m super happy for Joao and Mikkel, they’re here too, Rafa Majka too. We’re really focused and really good for this race. We’re all in good shape.”
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