Lotte Kopecky achieved a stunning victory in the third stage of the UAE Tour, showcasing her strength on the day’s only climb, Jebel Hafeet. The SD Worx rider caught and overtook Neve Bradbury in a gripping final sprint, relegating Bradbury and Mavi García to second and third places, respectively.
The race, previously dominated by sprinters, took a dramatic turn with the inclusion of Jebel Hafeet, a nine-kilometre climb averaging a 9% gradient, ending with a descent to the finish. Despite numerous attempts by the peloton to break away early in the race, the decisive action unfolded on the climb.
Key Highlights of the Race:
- Early Breakaways: The race saw numerous riders attempt to break away, including Anniina Athosalo (Uno-X Mobility), Marie Le Net (FDJ-Suez), and Cristina Tonetti (Laboral Kutxa-Fundacíon Esukadi), but the peloton remained intact until the approach to Jebel Hafeet.
- The Decisive Climb: Gaia Realini initiated the attack on Jebel Hafeet, with only five riders able to keep pace. The group was eventually whittled down to Kopecky, Bradbury, and García.
- Kopecky’s Comeback: Bradbury’s late attack seemed decisive until Kopecky mounted a formidable comeback, catching Bradbury with just 800 metres to go and securing victory in a tense sprint.
Kopecky, who was not in her signature rainbow jersey but the black points jersey for the day, expressed disbelief at her achievement, highlighting the motivation and preparation that went into the win. Despite initial doubts during Bradbury’s attack, Kopecky found her rhythm and clinched the victory, which she described as a significant confidence boost ahead of the classics season.
Reaction from the Podium Finishers:
- Neve Bradbury shared her spontaneous decision to attack in the final kilometres, expressing satisfaction with her performance and aiming for a podium finish. Her effort saw her finish just three seconds behind Kopecky, securing a strong position in the general classification.
- Mavi García reflected on the challenging climb and the teamwork that positioned her for the final ascent. Despite not being able to match the final attacks, García’s third-place finish propelled her onto the overall podium, a testament to her early-season form.
As the UAE Tour heads into its final stages, Kopecky’s victory on Jebel Hafeet not only marks her first mountain victory but also places her in the leader’s jersey, previously held by teammate Lorena Wiebes. Kopecky’s performance signals her readiness for the upcoming classics.
The final stage promises more excitement, with Kopecky looking to secure the overall victory and other contenders aiming to challenge her lead.
2024 UAE Tour Women Stage 3 result
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