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Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) won the AlUla Tour by just three seconds after winning the final stage atop the steep climb up to the Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid.
Yates was three seconds behind Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates) in the virtual general classification as the finish neared but secured a ten-second time bonus for winning the stage. Fisher-Black was third in the sprint and so secured four bonus seconds but that left him three second down in the general classification.
21-year-old neo-pro William Lecerf (Soudal-Quick Step) was second on the stage and so collected six bonus seconds, to equal Fisher-Black in the overall classification and jump past him due to better placings.
“I was bit nervous. I thought Finn was second on the stage and so doing some quick maths, I wasn’t sure I’d won it,” Yates admitted.
“But it’s a job well done! It’s a very important race for us, AlUla is an important partner of ours, so it’s fantastic to pull it off.”
“I tried to shake them on the climb but I didn’t have the legs. But I won the sprint to get the stage and so I was pretty happy. It’s a been a good early part of the year. My form is petty good. I’ve still got work to do but the big goals are the summer.”
Yates was the first to attack on the steep climb out of the valley, with 10km to go, after two early breaks were closed down on the valley roads.
He looked strong but surprisingly was unable to get away. William Lecerf (Soudal-Quick Step) suddenly danced past him to open a gap and show off his pure climbing skills.
On the steepest, double-digit gradients of the climb up to Harrat Uwayrid, Lecerf faded slightly and so Finn Fisher-Black and then UAE Team Emirates teammate Rafał Majka managed to get across to Yates and Lecerf. The four came together on the top of the plateau.
A group of chasers tried to close the gap along the flat road across the plateau to the finish. However they struggled to work smoothly, while up front Majka sacrificed his hopes for Fisher-Black.
The Kiwi had taken a two-second time bonus to extend his virtual lead on Yates to three seconds. However he still needed to stop Yates from winning the stages.
Yates, Lecerf and Fisher-Black rode together in the final five hundred metres and Yates wisely started his sprint early on the slightly ownhill finish.
The Briton got in front and managed to hold off Fisher-Black who tried to come down the middle of the road in the wind. Yates won it by a bike length ahead of Lecerf, with Fisher-Black a frustrated and disappointed third on the day and third overall.
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