Filippo Ganna impressed his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates after finishing 11th on stage four of the UAE Tour, with both Adam Yates and Luke Plapp singing his praises after the race.
The Italian managed to keep himself within touching distance of the leading group, his stocky frame powering up the 20km, 5.5 per cent average gradient mountain to Jebel Jais. His performance meant he finished three seconds back on stage winner Tadej Pogačar, with the Slovenian now leading him by just two seconds on general classification.
"Ganna in second," Yates highlighted after the finish. "A top ten of climbers and then the big fella.
"Plapp did a great job closing moves and then his attack was impressive in the final trying to chip off for the win. And the big fella was still there. So it’s been a good day."
"Ride of the day - Ganna," Plapp echoed. "It was awesome to see him do that and so nearly take the red jersey."
Adam Yates managed a second-place finish on the 181km mountain race, crossing the line just behind GC rival Pogačar. The Briton worked well with team-mates Luke Plapp and Ganna towards Jebel Jais, and now moves up to fourth overall.
"We did a really good race," Yates said. "But to be honest on this climb, it’s pretty hard to get it right. With a five per cent average the whole way and the wind plays a factor so we tried to be conservative today.
"I was with Pogačar but he’s pretty quick on this type of finish hey? It was the best we could do but we gave it a crack. Like we've said all along, Saturday will be the critical climb."
The aforementioned Luke Plapp is riding his first stage race for the team this week, with his stage four performance an impressive showing.
The Australian quashed attacks during the climb, and even attempted an attack of his own 500m out from the finish line. While the 21-year-old didn't have enough left in the tank to make the move stick, he is encouraged that Yates is still in contention to win the UAE Tour.
"It was good fun," Plapp said. "I thought we controlled it pretty well. But it was too easy to ride tempo up that climb I think. Once you had a gap it was too easy for the group to ride it back.
"But we gave it a crack and Adam got second so it keeps us in the fight for the final day and anything can happen there. We’re still in the hunt."
The next two stages will favour the sprinters once again, before the finale on Saturday to Jebel Hafeet will determine the UAE Tour winner.
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