Unlike stage two yesterday, when the breakaway was allowed to extend an advantage of almost 12 minutes, the peloton kept a close eye on the four-rider group that went clear in the opening kilometers of today’s race.
On the long, flat run into the base of the 10.8-kilometer climb up to the finish line, which had an average gradient of 5.4 percent and pitches of 11 percent in places, the breakaway’s advantage was never allowed to reach far beyond the four-minute mark.
It was clear that all eyes were on the climb of Jebel Hafeet and slowly, the peloton, led by race leader Primož Roglič’s Team Jumbo-Visma teammates, started to pull the breakaway back to an even more manageable two minutes.
By the time the main bunch reached the 90-kilometer to go mark, a dramatic increase in pace had seen the gap fall to inside one minute and less than ten kilometers late, the early breakaway was caught.
The calm before the storm continued with the peloton sticking together before the fight for position, and a new injection of pace, saw riders strung out in single file along the road as the gradient kicked up.
Patrick Bevin was sitting at the front of a reduced main bunch in the opening kilometers of the climb, and his natural strength and power saw him open up a slight advantage alongside Diego Ulissi (Team UAE-Emirates) and Rob Power (Team Sunweb).
The trio was eventually pulled back with around six kilometers to go as the General Classification battle heated up and the now select front group, which still included De La Parte, thinned out further.
Attacks inside the final four kilometers of the day saw the road littered with riders, but De La Parte was able to show off his climbing abilities, digging deep as part of the first main chasing group, which went on to finished 35 seconds behind the eventual winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).
De La Parte’s strong effort in today’s finale saw him move up into eighth overall on the General Classification, 1’05” behind Roglič with four more days of racing to come.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Victor De La Parte:
“Today’s stage was good for me. After coming back from Australia, I was training really well and coming into this race, I knew that today’s climb suited my characteristics as a rider. It was hard to be at the front at the start of the climb. There was a lot of fighting for position but the team did an excellent job as always.”
“When the final selection was made, I was happy that I was still up there. I felt good and to move into the top ten on the General Classification is a nice result at the end of the day.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“To be in the top ten overall with Victor and the end of the day is a good result for us. We didn’t come into this race with a favorite for the GC so to be in contention after our team time trial performance and Victor’s efforts on the final climb today is really positive.”
“I think this will now give a focus for the rest of the race. I think that if you had the legs to be up there on today’s climb, then you will probably have the legs on the longer summit finish to come. We will still try to look at going for some of the stages as well, but I think this is something we can work towards in terms of the General Classification.”
Stage 3: Al Ain – UAE University > Jebel Hafeet (179km)
Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 2. Primož Roglič (Team Jumob-Visma) 3. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)
CCC Team Top 3: 12. Victor De La Parte 38. Alessandro De Marchi 48. Serge Pawuels